Colorado Fire Chief Sues Fire District for $1 Million

A Colorado fire chief who was terminated last year while on leave for post traumatic stress disorder is suing his former department for $1 million.

Former Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District fire chief Bob Harvey is suing the district, the Black Forest Volunteer Fire Rescue Members Association and former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa for defamation, emotional harm and wrongful termination.

Chief Harvey was the fire chief in 2013 during the Black Forest Fire, the most destructive wildland fire in Colorado history. The fire burned over 14,000 acres, destroyed over 500 homes and killed two people. The district, El Paso County, the state and Chief Harvey are being sued by property owners in US District Court over the fire.

According to news reports, Chief Harvey took time off in 2014 due to post traumatic stress associated with the fire, and was terminated for abandoning his job after he failed to communicate with the district for 11 weeks.

The fire district has already asked the court to dismiss Chief Harvey’s suit claiming he failed to file the action within 180 days of any “injury” occurring.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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