The chief of a volunteer fire company has filed suit against two other departments for the personal injuries he sustained while recovering the body of another firefighter from a burning house after he had gone missing for a period of 45 minutes.

Madison Township, Indiana Fire Chief Robert Black filed suit in southern Indiana’s Jefferson Circuit Court on October 15 alleging negligence on the part of the Hanover and Kent volunteer fire companies for failure to keep track of firefighters at the scene.

On November 1, 2006, the 41-year-old fire chief fractured his right ankle in a fall from a second-story balcony while attempting to recover the body of Kent Township firefighter Greg Cloud. According to the suit, Cloud died of smoke inhalation.

The suit claims that Cloud had remained inside the burning house for approximately 45 minutes before it was determined by firefighters that he remained inside. According to Black, a head count came up one firefighter short and they knew that Cloud was missing due to his truck being at the scene, but he was nowhere to be found. Black and two other firefighters entered the building to locate him.

Black’s suit faults the Hanover and Kent departments for failure to have a system in place for tracking firefighters at the scene. Some departments utilize tags that are left behind to signify the firefighters’ whereabouts, whereas others utilize electronic systems.

The suit also claims that Hanover and Kent failed to ensure that all firefighters used respirators, maintain communication among firefighters, and provide proper training.

According to the suit, the injury caused Black to be incapacitated for several months. Damages were not specified.

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