The Maine Department of Labor fined the Berwick Fire Department for five work safety violations in May, the results of a review conducted after a firefighter was killed March 1.

Capt. Joel Barnes Photo courtesy of the Barnes family

The violations included inadequate communication and an inadequate safety assessment during the response to the fatal fire, as well as oxygen tanks that were beyond the manufacturer’s established shelf life and a lack of weekly equipment inspections.

Each of the five violations carried a proposed $700 fine. But while the state proposed a total fine of $3,500, the Berwick fire department demonstrated it had corrected all of the deficiencies and was required to pay only $350.

The May 21 report from the Bureau of Labor Standards to the department did not indicate whether any of the violations played a role in the death of Capt. Joel Barnes, or the injuries to other firefighters, during the response to the fire at 10 Bell St. The department did not file any formal appeal of the fines, according to the department.

Barnes was praised as a hero for saving the life a fellow firefighter when both became trapped in the three-story apartment building. Barnes and the fellow firefighter went into the building to look for occupants when they were overcome by smoke and flames, possibly because of a flashover, or sudden eruption of flames.

The fire was sparked by improperly discarded smoking materials, the state fire marshal said.

Read the report.

 

 

 

 

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