Firefighter dies after battling blaze

Department mourns firefighter who suffered apparent heart attack

GREENFIELD — The flags outside Greenfield’s fire station flew at half staff Monday, a sign to the community that those inside the brick building were mourning one of their own.

Greenfield Fire Territory firefighter Scott Compton died Saturday after suffering an apparent heart attack at his home hours after leaving the scene of a fire that devastated several local businesses.

Compton was a 17-year veteran of the department. He worked as a part-time firefighter, carrying a rank of lieutenant, and was on scene as local fire crews fought a blaze at Riley Park Plaza for more than seven hours Friday night.

Compton returned to his Greenfield home after the fire had been fully extinguished but suffered a heart attack in the hours that followed, officials said. He was found dead in his home Saturday midday.

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Because his death occurred within 48 hours of fighting a fire, Compton’s is considered a line-of-duty death – the first in the Greenfield Fire Territory’s history and the second in Hancock County in less than a year.

An autopsy ruling Compton’s official cause of death still is  pending; the firefighter was in good health prior to Friday’s fire, officials said.

Compton became a volunteer firefighter for Greenfield in 2000 after more than a decade of working as an insurance estimator. It was too late in his life for Compton to take on the fire service as a full-time career, but he was great at it, Greenfield Chief James Roberts said.

He was hardworking, compassionate and showed the same dedication to the fire department as those who’d spent a lifetime on its ranks, Roberts said.

Compton was the father of two grown daughters. He had three grandchildren and a fourth on the way. He was engaged to be married and had just celebrated his 55th birthday in early November.

He was the type of guy who always wanted to help people, fellow Greenfield Firefighter Jeff Dixon said. It’s a trait many firefighters share, but it stood out in Compton, who always seemed to be on the move, off to lend a hand to a friend or family member.

His brothers and sisters on the department gathered at the city’s main fire station Friday night after learning of Compton’s passing. Counselors were made available to help the firefighters deal with the loss of their friend.

Compton’s is the first line of duty death Greenfield’s fire department has suffered, officials said; it’s the third overall in the Hancock County, including one that occurred in the past year.

McCordsville Fire Department firefighter Richard Rehm, also 55, died on Christmas Eve, 2016, as he was responding to a call about a fire alarm going off in a nearby home. Rehm’s car was struck by a train.

Rehm was a 16-year member of the fire department, having joined its ranks when he was 18 years old.

The community is invited to pay tribute to Compton and his years of service at a funeral service 11 a.m. Friday at Brandywine Community Church in Greenfield.

Burial will follow at Greenfield’s Park Cemetery.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.