Captain Joel Barnes was born in Portland, Maine, on November 17, 1986. Barnes was a graduate of Old Orchard Beach High School. In Berwick, where he had worked since 2016, he was a training officer and emergency medical service coordinator. He previously worked at South Berwick Rescue, York Ambulance, the Old Orchard Beach Fire Department, and as a firefighter/paramedic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He was a per diem firefighter in Acton, Maine. He attended the Southern Maine Community College Paramedicine and Fire Science program and trained at Saco Valley Fire Academy and Horry County Fire Department in South Carolina.
Joel was known for his wry wit. He enjoyed the outdoors, and some of his favorite activities were camping, hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking. He particularly enjoyed time spent on family land passed down from several generations on a pond in Maine. He also enjoyed taking road trips, both independently and with friends. His father will always fondly remember the trips they took to see Red Sox games at various stadiums. His mother will remember him as a dedicated and loving son who put his family first. He was a wonderful uncle to his nephew and niece. He was very creative in making up silly games to make his nephew laugh, and they bonded while watching Scooby Doo cartoons, as well as enjoying tours of the fire department. He had bought a home with community lake access, and he was enjoying making it his own.
Joel was the grandson of career firefighter Lieutenant Stanley Maleski of the Baltimore City Fire Department. Survivors include his mother, Margaret Barnes, of Old Orchard Beach; father, Michael Barnes, and wife, Deborah, of Old Orchard Beach; a sister, Kara Allaire, and husband, Daniel, of Dover, New Hampshire; and nephew and niece, Evan and Adrienne; as well as a number of aunts, uncles, and cousins.