PORTLAND, Maine — Family members, firefighters and first responders from across the state paid their final respects to fallen Berwick Fire Capt. Joel Barnes Sunday.
More than 7,000 firefighters alone attended a public memorial service at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.
Barnes passed away in the line of duty responding to a four-alarm fire last Friday.
The 32-year-old firefighter-paramedic is being remembered for his unwavering dedication to the fire service.
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10:57 A.M.: Berwick Fire Dept. called for a reported apartment building fire at 10 Bell Street
11:01 A.M.: Firefighters, police officers arrive at 10 Bell Street
11:03 A.M.: Second alarm called as fire intensifies
11:14 A.M.: Third alarm called
11:15 A.M.: Mayday called for 'two firefighters missing'
11:17 A.M.: Firefighter called for 'help' on radio
11:31 A.M.: Fourth alarm called, bringing more than 50 firefighters from Maine and New Hampshire to the scene
12:40 P.M.: Wentworth-Douglass Hospital hospital confirm five firefighters were sent to the hospital in Dover, N.H. with injuries.
5:08 P.M.: Officials announce Cpt. Joel Barnes, 32, died from injuries sustained in the fire. Four other firefighters were treated and released.
All of the residents inside the six-unit building made it out safely. An investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing.
It's the worst call possible for firefighters to have to make at the scene of a fire. The call came in 11:15 a.m. as crews searched for Cpt. Barnes and another firefighter.
Here's what was said over their radio:
"MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY WE HAVE 2--2 FIREFIGHTERS MISSING MAYDAY KEEP ALL THE THE TALK DOWN TO A MINIMUM [SQUELCH]
DISPATCH FROM YORK AMBULANCE 4.
YORK AMBULANCE 4, WE'VE GOT A MAYDAY GOING.
LADDER 2, LADDER 2 [SQUELCH] [SQUELCH]
YEAH WHEN YOU COME IN, COME IN ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE ON BELL STREET THE OPPOSITE SIDE FROM JORDAN COME IN ON THAT SIDE OF THE BUILDING THE OPPOSITE SIDE [SQUELCH]
ONE FIREFIGHTER IS DOWN...I'M AT THE REAR OF THE BUILDING. HELP!"'
Barnes was one of two firefighters who encountered a wall of flames on the third floor and had to be rescued, according to Public Safety spokesperson Steve McCausland.
Firefighters close to Barnes said he died trying to save another firefighter.
"He died a hero. He died protecting one of his own," Chief Mark Klose with Rochester, N.H. Fire Department said.
Who he was
Joel Barnes was a beloved uncle, firefighter-paramedic and hero.
The 32-year-old was a graduate of Old Orchard Beach High School and served per diem on the Old Orchard Beach Fire Department.
Captain Barnes worked with the Berwick Fire Department for two and a half years and was also the Department's Training Safety Officer.
Barnes was one of the town's five career personnel members within its fire and rescue department along with fellow Capt. Travis Doiron, an EMT; firefighters Brian Roy and Kyle Lavoie, paramedic and EMT, respectively; and Chief Dennis Plante. Berwick's personnel also consists of 22 on-call and three per diem.
Before returning to Maine to work for Berwick Fire Department, Barnes worked in South Carolina.
According to the assistant chief of Horry County Fire Rescue in South Carolina, Barnes was part of 'Recruit Class 26.'
"[Captain Barnes] was a very dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable Jake who loved the job! Honored to have had this excellent firefighter as part of the team," Asst. Chief Douglas Cline wrote in a post on Facebook. "RIP brother we have it from here."
Barnes' family declined an interview as they grieve.
A historic loss
Barnes' death marks the first firefighter death in an active fire in three decades, according to officials.
The last firefighter to die as a result of injuries sustained in a fire was Basil Curtis in February 1988 in Milo.
"Though this is what we do all the time," Maine State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said in an emotional press conference from the fire scene Friday. "For everyone of us in the fire service — when we lose one of our own, it's a difficult time."
Barnes is the 19th firefighter to die in the line of duty in Maine since 1990, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
The last firefighter to die in the line of duty was in 2016.
Honoring a hero
The tragedy that struck the Berwick Fire Department had a massive ripple effect across Maine and the country.
Barnes' death sparked an outpouring of support from firefighters, friends and total strangers on social media just moments after his death.
"A sad day for the MAINE firefighting community. Captain Joel Barnes of the Berwick FD lost his life while battling a 4 alarm fire in Berwick," Marc Veilleux with the Maine State Fire Marshal's Office said. "4 other firefighters were also injured and transported to the hospital. RIP Captain."
"Joel died a hero as he ran towards danger - putting his own safety aside - so that the lives of others may be saved," North Berwick PD posted. "The death of any member of the public safety community is a tragedy, but one this close to home makes everyone associated with first responders hold their loved ones a little bit tighter."
Prominent Maine politicians also took to social media to offer their condolences.
Gov. Janet Mills said Barnes would be "forever remembered for his courage and service to [Maine]" and asked to keep those injured in thought.
Mills has ordered flags to half-staff on the day of his funeral service.
Senator Susan Collins called Barnes a 'hero.'
"Capt. Joel Barnes of the Berwick Fire Department was a hero who lost his life while bravely seeking to save the lives of others," Sen. Collins tweeted. "Maine will be eternally grateful for his sacrifice and for all of our firefighters who face extreme danger to protect our communities."
A final salute
Hundreds of people turned out to give a final salute to Captain Barnes as his body was carried from Dover, N.H. to Old Orchard Beach Sunday.
Firefighters lined the streets and overpasses along the route with flags draped between ladders to honor a man many said gave the ultimate sacrifice.
The hearse followed a procession of fire trucks and ambulances up I-95 to the Old Orchard Beach Funeral Home.
"You never know how tough these situations are until it hits so close to home," Joshua Hoffman, a firefighter-paramedic from Dover, N.H., who was called to the fire said after he watched the procession leave.
Hoffman was one of several fire personnel who stood watch around the clock over Barnes' body.
"There was a retired gentleman out of Berwick who stood from 9:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.," Hoffman said. "He said, 'This is my family and I’m not leaving him.' I mean that’s pretty powerful”
A public memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Sunday, March 10. Several thousand people are expected to attend.
A two-mile procession after the service will head to Cavalry Cemetery where Barnes will be buried with full fire department honors. The burial service is private for family members and the Berwick Fire Department only.
Before the public memorial service, there will be a Catholic funeral mass, which will also be a private matter for just family.
-Private Catholic Funeral at Old Orchard Beach Funeral Home
-At 9:30 a.m. a procession escorted by Maine State Police will carry Barnes' body up I-95 to South Portland Central Fire Station where his casket will be placed on a fire truck.
-Procession will continue across Casco Bay Bridge where Portland fire boats will salute to Cross Insurance Arena. The procession is expected to arrive by 10:15 a.m. ahead of the 11 a.m. service.
-After the public service, he will be laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery during a private burial service with firefighters and family.