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Joel Patrick Barnes


Captain Barnes and the members of his fire department were dispatched to a report of a fire in a three-story apartment building. The dispatch also included a report of someone trapped in the building. Captain Barnes’ engine was the first on-scene, he reported a working fire and requested a second alarm. Captain Barnes ordered one firefighter to raise a ground ladder to the 3rd floor of the structure to rescue a trapped resident. Captain Barnes and another firefighter advanced a 1-3/4-inch handline up the stairs to the 2nd floor landing. Captain Barnes and the other firefighter left the nozzle on the landing and proceeded to the 3rd floor to conduct a search. As they searched, conditions in the 3rd-floor apartment deteriorated and they made the decision to retreat back to the 2nd floor. Egress from the apartment was blocked by fire conditions in the stairway. Captain Barnes initiated a Mayday and the team looked for a place of refuge in the apartment while they awaited rescue. Captain Barnes used his body to shield the other firefighter from fire conditions. As the fire was knocked down by other firefighters, the firefighter with Captain Barnes was able to make it to a balcony and signal other firefighters for assistance. Captain Barnes was removed from the building over ground ladder and he was transported to the hospital. Despite efforts to revive him, he was pronounced dead. The cause of death was listed as hyperthermia and/or hypoxia.

Incident Location: 10 Bell Street, Berwick, Maine (U.S. National Grid: 19T CH 48587 92451 (DD: 43.269, -70.865))

photo of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
Joel Patrick Barnes was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.

Department information

Berwick Fire Department
10 School Street
Berwick, Maine 03901

Chief: Dennis Plante

Age: 32
Rank: Captain
Classification: Career
Incident date: March 1, 2019 11:14
Date of death: March 1, 2019
Cause of fatal injury: Caught or Trapped
Nature of fatal injury: Other
Activity type: Search and Rescue
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Residential

Last updated: July 09, 2020