FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, March 2, 2019
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Update from the Town of Berwick and Berwick Fire & Rescue Department
Barnes Family Statement Included
Firefighters to Maintain 24-Hour Vigil Over Captain Joel Barnes
BERWICK, Maine — The Town of Berwick and the firefighting community in New England and beyond are collectively in mourning today after the line of duty death of Berwick Fire & Rescue Captain Joel Barnes, who died fighting a four-alarm fire that injured four other firefighters on Friday afternoon.
Captain Barnes, age 32, was a paramedic and served as the Berwick Fire & Rescue training officer and emergency medical services coordinator. He previously worked for the Horry County, South Carolina Fire Rescue Department, South Berwick Rescue, York Ambulance and the Old Orchard Beach Fire Department before joining Berwick Fire in July 2016. He was also an active per diem firefighter for Town of Acton, Maine.
Captain Barnes died in a large apartment fire on Bell Street Friday. The origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation. An initial finding indicates that Captain Barnes was leading another firefighter in an interior attack of the fire when conditions suddenly worsened.
“Captain Barnes died a hero, battling a large and dangerous building fire. He made the ultimate sacrifice for his community,” said Berwick Fire Chief Dennis Plante.
Added Berwick Town Manager Stephen G. Eldridge: “Firefighters run toward danger and into places that everyone else is running away from. Captain Barnes lost his life saving others, while we honor him, we are struck with a profound sense of grief today. On behalf of the enter Berwick community, I wish to thank everyone for their offers of support and expressions of condolence.”
Firefighters began a 24-hour constant vigil over the body of Captain Barnes since the arrival of a procession from the medical examiner’s office in Concord, New Hampshire to the Tasker Funeral Home in Dover. The vigil will continue without interruption until the funeral services.
Statement of the Barnes Family
“Joel always wanted to be a firefighter. He died doing the job he loved, helping his brother firefighters. Joel died a hero, and while nothing can ease the tremendous sense of loss and grief that we are now feeling, we are proud that his final actions were selfless.
“Joel leaves his mother, father, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew, along with extended family. We have been overwhelmed by expressions of sorrow and offers of support from our neighbors in Berwick, from throughout Maine and New Hampshire, and from the firefighting community.
“We are asking for privacy so that our family can come together during this time.” — The Barnes Family
The family of Captain Barnes requests that any donations being made in his name go to the Berwick Volunteer Firefighters Association in his memory c/o Kennebunk Saving Bank, 2 School St., Berwick, ME 03901.
This is the latest of several updates that will be distributed as new information becomes available. Funeral arrangements are still being finalized.