Fire & EMS Station 18

Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection. National Museum of American History

City of Durham Fire Department Badge

Pictured: (Left) Example of Archival Photography. Source: Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection. National Museum of American History. (Right) City of Durham Fire Department Badge. 

Project Background

Recognizing the need to facilitate storytelling and documentation with a focus on Durham’s diverse and unique history, the Cultural and Public Art Program will hire a Public Historian and Photographer team (“Candidates”) for a public art project centered around historical documentation and education of Durham’s Fire Department history. 

The City seeks Candidates to create artworks that contribute to the interest and aesthetic appeal of the Fire Department and develop archival resources for the public to learn about Durham’s history. The Candidates will work in collaboration to capture and archive the Fire Station's objects of historical significance as digital images, large-scale photographs and/or vinyl printed murals along with interpretative text, which will be displayed inside of the Fire & EMS Station 18 and through an online platform. The Candidates will also work with the Fire Department staff to document the everyday objects used in their work and capture the current staff’s commitment to the community.  

The selected Candidate(s) will work to:  

  • Beautify the interior spaces of Fire & EMS Station 18 while simultaneously capturing history past and present; 
  • Create a public history project promoting community storytelling;  
    • The photographic artwork and documents must relate to the history of Durham’s Fire Departments. For example, art could connect visually to the site of the Fire & EMS Station 18 or interpret historical, environmental, decorative, architectural, scientific, or cultural aspects of the site and/or department. 
  • Create printed photographs for interior wall hangings that will be framed with the option of fabricating vinyl murals based on preference of Fire & EMS staff. The Public Historian will provide interpretative text to accompany the photographs; and 
  • Develop content for digital and/or online platforms for broad public access.  

As one of the Fire Stations currently displays objects of historical importance, the public art project will strengthen the public’s ability to access the collection by hosting the content through an online platform, in addition to celebrating and acknowledging the complex history of the Fire Department. These archival images have potential for long-term development as well, including the utilization of the images in Fire and EMS stations across Durham and having the collection housed on the City of Durham’s online platforms or Durham County’s Library archival systems. 

City of Durham Fire Department & Capital Improvement Plan Projects

Fire Department’s Mission
The Durham Fire Department endeavors to prevent or minimize the harmful effects of fires, medical emergencies, and other types of dangerous events. The City of Durham is home to approximately 300,000 residents. The Durham Fire Department employs over 400 personnel to protect and serve our residents and visitors that the City hosts daily. Approximately 90% of these personnel serve in on-the-ground, field operations.  

Capital Improvement Plan Projects 
Located in an established residential neighborhood, the proposed Fire and EMS Station 18 will be a 15,000sf, modern facility based upon the current prototype developed for Fire and EMS Station 17. The new facility will serve as an operational base supporting the relocated Fire and EMS Staff from the current station to increase service to the public while reducing response time from a more central location. Aspects important to the design team are incorporating the City’s sustainability and energy management goals into the design, continuing LEED achievements established with Station 17, and adapting design features into the existing neighborhood.  

For the FY 2020-25 CIP, capital projects are funded through impact fees, enterprise funds, grants, the capital project fund, pay-go funding, and debt financings. More information about the CIP process and funding can be found here: 


Katy Clune and Julia Gartrell are repeat collaborators who combine their skills to tell powerful stories in collaboration with communities. Katy has a MA in Folklore from UNC Chapel Hill and a BA in Art History. Julia has an MFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in Art. Believing in the “power of the particular,” they have worked together to uncover individual stories that speak to, and maybe even connect, broader communities. In 2016, Clune and Gartrell presented Unpacking the Past, Designing the Future: The Scrap Exchange and Lakewood in Partnership, an oral history and exhibition on the history of the Lakewood neighborhood and The Scrap Exchange. In 2021 they completed a year-long, state-wide oral history project for the Library of Congress: Art & Alchemy: North Carolina’s Repair Professionals. After living in Durham for seven years, Katy recently relocated to Charlottesville, VA, and is currently director of the Virginia Folklife Program. Julia is a Durham native and works as a sculptor and educator. In 2020, she launched a traveling public art project called the Radical Repair Workshops, an art studio, gallery, and teaching space housed in a vintage trailer. For more about the artists, visit their websites at and


"The City of Durham Fire Department is an essential and integral part of our city. Its engine sirens and historic landmarks are part of our everyday life, yet few of us are familiar with the challenges, innovation, pride, and stories of Durham firefighters. Fire stations are important community hubs, with relevance to social, political, racial, and economic histories. The changing tools, technologies, and civic infrastructures of firefighting tell the story of a maturing city. Comradeship, service to the craft, and even cooking traditions are important parts of station culture. We will uncover and share Durham’s fire fighting history through combining archival research, community engagement and one-on-one interviews with fine object photography of Fire Station One’s historic collection and the creation of new artwork. By pairing voices and documentary photography with gorgeously photographed historical objects, we will bring the past and present experience of fire fighting in Durham to life. As visual creatives with a deep dedication to the history and people of Durham, we will strive to make a visually compelling and timeless installation of photos and text at the Fire Station 18. As Durham continues to undergo rapid redevelopment, we are grateful for the opportunity to creatively preserve and widely share this part of our local history and honor our Fire and EMS communities." 

Community Conversations

The City of Durham and the artist team will plan and facilitate at least two community engagement activities to encourage public input and participation in the archival project.  The selected Candidates will be expected to host, facilitate, and participate in community and staff engagement activities before finalizing their designs to gather feedback from residents living in the respective City Council Ward where the Fire & EMS Station will be located.  

The Public Historian and Photographer will capture living history as a part of the community engagement efforts, which may include written documentation by Fire & EMS staff and Durham residents who have experiences with the Fire Department.    

Proposed Timeline

September 16, 2021: RFQ promotion/informing   
October 28, 2021 by 11:59 PM EST:  RFQ Deadline  
October 29, 2021 at 3:00 PM EST: Confirmation of RFQ Receipt via email from the City of Durham to Candidates
November 1, 2021 by 3:00 PM EST: By this date if a Candidate(s) does not receive confirmation receipt from the City, it is the responsibility of the Candidate(s) to contact the City to confirm submission.
Mid January 2022:  City to notify Candidates of decision    
Winter 2023: City and Candidates to enter into contract    
Spring/Summer 2023: Design Development and Stakeholders engagement
Spring/Summer 2023: Final Designs shared with the Stakeholders
Fall 2023:  Candidates submit Final Designs to City for final approval
        (June 15, 2022: Public Art Committee's meeting; Recommendation of Approval)
Fall 2022: Fabrications & Installation (based on construction timeline)
Fall 2023:  Develop & provide digital content
Fall 2023: Digital Content shared with community  



Fire & Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Station 18
6919 Herndon Road
Durham, NC 27713

Historian & Photographer Selection Process

The Fire & EMS Station 18 public art project will use a Request for Qualification (RFQ) application process. The RFQ process opens on Thursday, September 16, 2021. The Public Historian and Photographer shall submit a RFQ as a team. Submissions must be received by Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST via email to Rebecca Brown ([email protected]) with the subject line "Public Art RFQ: Fire & EMS Station 18”. 

For full details on the RFQ requirements and submission process, please read the RFQ document located here: Fire and EMS Station 18 - Public Art RFQ

Fire & EMS Station RFQ Opens in new window

From the pool of RFQ applicants, a panel of community members, historians, artists, and City staff reviewed the artists' applications and select the historian and photographer.


The Public Historian and Photographer team will have a total public art project budget of $47,000. The City will pay the Public Historian and Photographer team $25,000 to complete the public art project, including artist-design, community engagement, fabrication, and documentation of the artwork on site, with an additional $18,000 for digital content, community engagement activities, and printing, framing and installation. A maximum budget of $4,000 will be allocated for a youth mentee(s) component (18 or older), that will collaboratively be selected by the City and the Candidates.  


For information about the public art project, please contact the Cultural & Public Art Program staff here: 

Rebecca Brown
Cultural & Public Arts Program Manager
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 919-560-4197, ext. 21245