The death of Berwick Fire Captain Joel Barnes is having a big impact on firefighters throughout the state.
The fire service is a very tight knit community and while the members of the Berwick Fire Department continue to mourn the loss of Capt. Barnes, it’s other departments across Maine and New Hampshire that are helping them get through it.
It’s hard to put into words what losing a friend, colleague or brother means to the fire service.
“We work with these people day in and day out and they really are our extended family, and when there’s a loss like this, it reverberates through the entire fire department family,” South Portland Fire Department Deputy Chief Phil Selberg said.
After the passing of Capt. Joel Barnes, that family came out in full force, with trained peer support officers who will work with firefighters in Berwick, now coping with the unimaginable.
“It tries to bridge that gap, so people are comfortable seeking help if they need help and providing avenues for people to get clinical care if they need to,” Selberg said.
With firefighters and law enforcement seeing higher rates of PTSD, counselors say tragedies like the loss of Capt. Barnes can have a dire impact, but they want every firefighter to know that help is out there.
“Years ago, it was just part of the job that you had to deal with it, and now we know that’s not the case. We’re human just like everyone else and sometimes we need help, too,” Selberg said.
Fellow firefighters continue to hold a 24-hour vigil over Capt. Branes’ body in Old Orchard Beach.
The public services for Berwick Fire Captain Joel Barnes will be held Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.