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Wallington firefighter dies battling overnight blaze

Photo Credit: Damien Danis
Photo Credit: Courtesy Bob Kirsch
Photo Credit: Damien Danis
Photo Credit: Damien Danis
Photo Credit: Damien Danis

TRIBUTE: A popular veteran firefighter who served the public for more than 40 years  died overnight after falling from the roof of a burning restaurant in Wallington.

Gregory Barnas, 57, was cutting a hole in the roof to vent the Akasaka restaurant on Paterson Avenue when he fell.

PHOTO: Courtesy Bob Kirsch

The captain was later pronounced dead at Hackensack University Medical Center.

“What could we say? He was doing his job,” Fire Commissioner Mark Tomko said early this morning.

His two sons, firefighters Kevin and John Barnas, were battling the blaze, as well.

  • PHOTOS: Thousands of firefighters, emergency workers and citizens are expected for a memorial procession that will pass through Wallington this Friday for the funeral of popular veteran Fire Captain Gregory Barnas, who was killed after falling from the roof of a burning restaurant before dawn yesterday. READ MORE ….

The fire broke out just before 1:30  a.m. and went to two alarms. Besides Wallington, companies responded from Rutherford (FAST), East Rutherford, Carlstadt, Lodi, Garfield and Wood Ridge.

Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said it appears the fire began in a malfunctioning kitchen electrical fixture.

“Our prayers are with the brave firefighter,” the prosecutor said.

“Barney” was a teenager when he joined the volunteer department in 1972, serving as chief five years later. He was also a career Jersey City firefighter, most recently serving as captain of Ladder Co. 6, one of the city’s busiest.

An instructor, Barnas taught high-ladder rescue operations nationwide.

He attended Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey and was graduated from Rutgers-Newark in 1978.

He is survived by his sons and wife, Patricia.

“Capt. Barney was a good and knowledgeable man when it can to firefighting. I truly learned a lot from [him],” wrote Ryan Meyers. “The volunteer fire service is definitely like a brotherhood. When you [lose] one it is like [losing] a family member.”

“I’ve known Barney my entire life,” added Kim Fedor. “[M]y father (Kenny Gajda) is also a member of Truck Co. 1, and I grew up down the street from him.

“There is so little comfort that words can bring at this time, but may some peace come to his family knowing that the community and other family members of Truck Co. 1 will remember Barney lovingly, with much respect and with great gratitude for his service.”

PHOTO, TOP: Courtesy Damien Danis

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A memorial FACEBOOK page has been set up ( CLICK on image ):

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When I am called to duty, God
whenever flames may rage,
give me the strength to save some life
Whatever be its age.

Help me to embrace a little child
before it’s too late,
or some older person
from the horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert
and hear the weakest shout,
and quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling
and give the best in me,
to guard my neighbor
and protect his property.

and if according to my fate
I am to lose my life,
Please bless with your protecting hand
my children and my wife.

– Author Unknown

“Our prayers are with the brave firefighter,” he said. – See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/topstories/wallington/Wallington_firefighter_dies_while_battling_blaze.html?page=all#sthash.Gp0WAf12.dpuf

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