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Teamsters Honor Fallen Firefighter

Capt. Joel Barnes Died Saving Fellow Firefighter

Thousands of people from Maine, around the country, and the world, gathered in Portland on Sunday to honor Captain Joel Barnes of the Berwick Fire Department. The 32-year-old firefighter, a member of Teamsters Local 340, died on March 1 while fighting an apartment blaze. He was remembered at this weekend’s memorial service for his kind heart and heroic actions, having died shielding a fellow firefighter from the flames.

Barnes was one of three bargaining unit members at the Berwick Fire Department in Maine and an active Teamster member. Barnes was a member of the Teamsters negotiating committee.

“Captain Barnes was a true hero. His dedication, service and sacrifice to his craft are unquestionable. He was the best example of a Teamster, helping and protecting others,” said Brett Miller, President of Local 340.

“He was dedicated to his profession, to helping other people. Listening to everyone at the service talk about how he touched their lives, that same theme rang through,” said Traci St. Clair, business agent for Barnes and the Berwick bargaining unit.

This was the first firefighter fatality in the state in decades. Teamsters Local 340 representatives and members helped organize the service, working alongside other firefighter unions, fire departments and other public employers. More than 2,500 people, many of them fellow firefighters, lined the snow-covered street outside the memorial early on Sunday to pay their respects, surrounded by Teamster tractor trailers there in solidarity and to celebrate the life of Capt. Barnes.

At the memorial, Jon Keenan, a Teamster with the Westbrook Fire Department, joined Miller in presenting Barnes’s parents with the Medal of Valor. The medal is given for heroic action above and beyond the call of duty that is at extreme personal risk and instrumental in rescuing and saving another’s life.