December 14, 2019
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Berwick Fire Department, town cited with 5 violations after deadly fire

Ioanna Raptis | AP
Ioanna Raptis | AP
In this March 2, 2019, file photo firefighters salute fallen Berwick, Maine firefighter Capt. Joel Barnes as they escort his body to Tasker Funeral Home in Dover, N.H.

PORTLAND — New details about a deadly fire that killed a Berwick firefighter earlier this year are outlined in a Maine Department of Labor inspection report.

The report, which is dated May 21 but is just now coming to light, outlines mistakes made both leading up to and during that March 1 apartment fire that killed Berwick Captain Joel Barnes.

Captain Barnes is remembered for heroically saving a fellow firefighter in that fire, with the Maine Department of Labor launching a standard investigation because of his death.

The report cites five “serious” violations, including using breathing cylinders “beyond the manufacturer’s established shelf life,” plus mistakes the day of the fire involving “communication” and “safety” procedures, including failing to perform a 360 degree “size up” of the building to identify hazards before entering.

The report also included fines, and required the town of Berwick to fix the identified problems by June 24.

Requests for comment Thursday night were referred to the Berwick Town Manager, who has not yet responded.

The report does not say if any of the violations contributed to Barnes’ death.



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