Officials with the fire department said Bilka was responding to a call on April 22.
"When he came around the corner, a tractor-trailer was in the middle of the road and I don't think he ever saw it," said assistant fire chief Benbury Ellington.
Bilka had to be removed from the vehicle by some of his comrades.
"He was one of our guys we had to pull him out, so that was the roughest part, seeing him in the vehicle and knowing what kind of pain he was in," said Capt. Clifton Peace, of the Antioch-Fishing Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
For a month, Bilka fought facial, lower body and internal injuries, but he later died. In the more than 30 years since Antioch-Fishing Creek originated, it was the first-ever loss in the line of duty.
"(He was a) super nice guy. He's the type of guy who would stop if he saw you on the side of the road to help you out," Ellington said.
The loss comes at a time when the department is growing, with a new station under construction.
"We're just sorry Joe wasn't able to see it all come together," Peace said.
A procession and memorial service is scheduled for Bilka. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Antioch-Fishing Creek Volunteer Fire Department 4093 Charlie Harris Road Oxford, NC 27565