The Dayton Firefighters Union Local 136 will hold an unveiling event this Sunday at Fire Station 11 downtown to showcase an outdoor mural commissioned by the organization over three years ago.
The event will start at 1 p.m. at Station 11, located at 145 Warren St., and is free and open to the public. The mural is located on a large retention wall on Buckeye Street across from the fire station. The wall stretches from South Main Street to Warren Street.
“Because of Covid, we’ve not had a chance to unveil it to the public, but since things have settled down, we’re going to have a barbeque,” said Kraig Robinson, Local 136 president. “We’re hoping for a good crowd to come out and see the mural firsthand because we’re really proud of it.”
According to Robinson, members of Local 136 began planning the mural in 2019. The project started that same year and, because of the pandemic was not fully completed until 2021.
“We wanted to do something fun to get people engaged into what we represent as a labor organization,” Robinson said. “We also wanted to incorporate a fun theme for our 159th anniversary, so we came up with the idea of using the wall to let people know who we are, what we do, and to basically (showcase highlights) of our159-year history.”
The firefighters approached local muralist Tiffany Clark, founder of the Mural Machine, who agreed to complete the painting, which spans an estimated 125 yards.
“We brainstormed with (Clark) and sketches on napkins and paper turned into what we see today,” Robinson said.
Clark has completed numerous commissioned mural-style art pieces around the Dayton region, including a heroin overdose memorial on Xenia Avenue, a mural of books on the Fairborn Library, and an installation for AES Ohio’s new Smart Operations Center. She said the Dayton Fire mural is based on a traditional comic art style.
“We had a roundtable meeting with a handful of fire fighters and they were discussing how they loved old comic books,” Clark said. “I told them I see them as the real heroes of the city and, other than making them blush, they agreed to follow through with that (idea).”
Clark said it’s important to recognize the job of fire fighters, who “solely get paid to save lives,” and she feels the mural serves that purpose in a meaningful way.
“I’m so proud of (the mural) because I feel our Dayton history is something we’re all so connected to, and showing the nuances of the specific fire fighters’ history, how they affected our area, and showing it in a way that connects with multiple ages, as far as that old-school comic book feel, is a worthwhile story,” she said.
The mural includes images commemorating historic events within the fire department’s history, including depictions of the original volunteer-based department, bucket brigades, the organization’s first black firefighter, first paramedic/EMT personnel, and significant fire events throughout the years, including the 1987 Sherwin-Williams fire, and the Salar restaurant fire in 2017.
The wall technically belongs to the city of Dayton, Robinson said, but the fire department is responsible for the upkeep. Robinson said the city was happy to allow the mural plans to move forward.
“There was some graffiti on the wall before it was painted, which we covered with a coat of black paint, and it was sort of an eye sore, so the city of Dayton was all about it,” he said. “It looks awesome now.”