BERWICK — Firefighters from Berwick and surrounding towns gathered Friday morning to hold a moment of silence in memory of Capt. Joel Barnes, the firefighter and paramedic who died in an apartment building fire last week.

The solemn moment happened at 10:57 a.m. Friday, exactly a week after the call came in reporting the fire at 10 Bell St. Barnes, a 32-year-old paramedic who served as the Berwick Fire and Rescue training officer and emergency services coordinator, was credited with saving the life of another firefighter by shielding him from the intensity of the flames.

“Joel was a true hero,” Berwick Fire Chief Dennis Plante said.

Following the moment of silence, Plante and Capt. Travis Doiron remembered Barnes as a dedicated member of the department who was known for his attention to detail and commitment to the community. Barnes often spoke to students about fire prevention and read to children during story time at the local library.

“He was just an overall good person,” Plante said. “I’m truly going to miss Joel.”

Doiron described Barnes as his “right-hand man” and said Barnes always showed up for his shifts on time and ready to work.

“He was one very laid-back and easy-going kind of guy,” Doiron said.

Drawings and sympathy notes from local schoolchildren hang in the Berwick Fire Department on Friday. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Barnes also was the type of person to go above and beyond, Doiron said. After a recent medical call during a snowstorm, Barnes shoveled the patient’s walkway and steps, he said.

“He went above and beyond what’s expected of a firefighter,” Doiron said. “He would stop anything he was doing to help this community out.”

The fondness community members felt for Barnes was evident at the fire station on School Street. Colorful drawings and sympathy notes sent by local children were hung above an office door, next to an oversized poster board covered with notes about the fallen firefighter.

“Thank you hero firefighters. Captain Barnes we will miss you,” one child wrote above a drawing of a firetruck.

Next door to the station, the sign at an ice cream shop read “We salute Joel Barnes, fallen hero. Godspeed.”

Signs of mourning remained outside the Berwick Fire Department on Friday. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Barnes will be laid to rest this weekend following a memorial service that is expected to be attended by hundreds of firefighters and first responders from New England and beyond.

A private family Mass will be held Sunday morning. Barnes’ body will then be brought to the South Portland Fire Department, where it will be transferred to a Berwick fire truck. A procession will travel across the Casco Bay Bridge, up High Street and onto Spring Street. As the procession travels across the bridge, Portland Fire Department boats will conduct a ceremonial salute.

The public memorial service at the Cross Insurance Arena will begin at 11 a.m. Immediately after the services, a procession will go to Calvary Cemetery in South Portland, where Barnes will be buried with full fire department honors.

Barnes was a 2005 graduate of Old Orchard Beach High School and previously had worked at the Old Orchard Beach Fire Department.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @grahamgillian

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