Firefighter captain shares his skills with agency to honor his peers
VANCOUVER — Fire Capt. Clint Greenley fights fires and paints pictures. Both, he has loved since he was a child. This year, he found a way to bring the two together.
With the completion of Fire District 6’s new Station 63 in Salmon Creek earlier this year, the agency found there to be quite a bit of blank wall space. The ideas to have a photo of one of the crews blown up onto the wall emerged.
Unfortunately, the quality of the photo was lacking and could not be placed on the wall. Capt. Greenley, who describes himself as a closet-artist, stepped forward.
“I suggested or offered my services to paint it on the wall, and everybody kind of looked at me like, ‘Oh, yeah, sure, whatever,’” Greenley said. “Chief Newberry was in charge of the station and, and doing all the interior and exterior work on it. So I went to him and said, ‘Hey, I’m still willing to do this. Would you like me to do a … mock up of this? So I did it on a piece of wood. Once I showed it to him, he was somewhat impressed, and so then he called Chief Mauer and she was impressed as well.”
The rich and dramatic mural that now stands emblazoned on a 15-foot staircase wall in the station was painted by hand, start-to-finish, by Capt. Greenley. In an ode to the dangers faced by firefighters everyday, and to honor those who have fallen, the air tank number at the center of the mural was changed to 343.
The number of firefighters killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.
“It’s interesting about art, once you see it in pictures, it can be impressive, but to actually stand at the base of it and look up at it, it’s a whole new perspective,” Greenley said. “It’s like a symbol of what we do. Right now I get a walk by it every day. It inspires me, not only as an artist, but also as a firefighter as well. It represents some of the things that we do and as firefighters we need to be on our game all the time.”
The new station was made possible through the approval by voters of the district’s fire levy lid lift earlier this year. The previous station was out-of-date and in need of numerous repairs and upgrades.
Now, Station 63 boasts brand new living facilities for the firefighters that are entirely separate from where they store their gear, which reduces the risk of cancer from particulates. An additional response unit also now operates from the station.
“With a bigger station, we have a lot of empty wall space, and we really wanted the artwork in the station to be representative of our personnel and our departments,” Maurer said. “His talents surpassed anything that I knew he had. We have the philosophy, and this is true, that everything we have is a gift from the community. So that station is a gift from our citizens and that really puts a sense of pride and ownership with the firefighters that work there.”
Greenley worked on the Station 63 mural for 170 hours; all his own time. Coming in an hour early, and staying an hour late, as well as working on his days off for five hours at a time, he computed the painting faster than he originally thought he could.
He said one of his key motivations in crafting the work was that it would be a piece of legacy he could pass on. The mural will stand even after retirement and continue to inspire future firefighters, he said.
“I’m excited that it will be there after I’m gone,” he said. “My signatures on it, and people will be able to ask about it. I think it’ll be a good representation for years.”