"He's a hero" - Fellow firefighters remember Capt. Barnes

    Thousands of firefighters, friends and family gathered at the Cross Insurance Arena Sunday to pay their respects to Capt. Joel Barnes. (WGME)

    PORTLAND (WGME) -- "Capt. Barnes is a hero," Berwick Fire Chief Dennis Plante emotionally said Sunday. "He's my hero."

    Thousands of firefighters and fellow first reponders saluted their fallen brother, Capt. Joel Barnes for one last time Sunday morning at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

    "When he responded to an accident scene he was a hero," Berwick Selectman Tom Wright said. "When the call came in for an elderly resident in need, Joel was a hero to the family that got to keep a loved one by their side."

    Barnes' family was presented with the Medal of Valor during Sunday ceremony by Teamsters Local 340 for his service and sacrifice.

    "Without hesitating, he gave his life to save the life of another firefighter and he did it in the most selfless and courageous way possible," Capt. Barnes' uncle Joel Barnes said. "I thank him for that."

    Sunday's ceremony filled with somber tradition, including the Last Alarm Bell Toll.

    "Capt Joel Barnes of the Berwick Fire Dept answered his last alarm on March 1, 2019," Sanford dispatchers said for the last time. "Rest easy, we have it from here."

    Capt. Barnes' brothers and sisters in the fire service will now help his legacy live on.

    "For the younger firefighters here today, think about Capt. Barnes and hope that you can be like him," Kennebunk Fire Chief Jeffrey Rowe said. "Firefighters never truly die they burn forever in the hearts of those they save and those they touched."

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