Any fire station can be loud. One in downtown Knoxville also can be quiet, especially during down time when Captain Dennis Noe paints.


Any fire station can be loud. One in downtown Knoxville also can be quiet, especially during down time when Captain Dennis Noe paints.

Captain Dennis Noe fights fires and paints murals. He would not have discovered his artistic talent if it were not for his mission to thank his friends. Emily Stroud and Brian Holt

"This is what we call the station patch. Each of the fire halls came up with their own patch design and we've got a fellow who is actually on this shift now that designed that patch, Rusty Singleton, so I give him all the credit for that," Capt. Dennis Noe said.

He's finishing up the second coat on the station patch mural in one bay at Knoxville Fire Department Headquarters downtown. He already created a giant patch painting stretched across the back wall in the other bay. He had a lot of offers to help but Dennis Noe did it alone.

He laughed when asked how he painted the murals.

"Now you're going to make me give my secrets away and it's not going to seem near as special," he said.

He converted a photograph of the patch into a transparency and projected on the wall then traced it and painted it.

"The problem is when you're back looking at it you've got a good clear definite line but when you get up on it, it just kind of disappears," he explained.

He came late to painting after a serious health issue in 2009.

"I was diagnosed with cancer," he said.

Cancer treatment was grueling but he didn't go through it alone.

"Not only on this shift but the other two shifts, they took care of me. So that is, to sum it up, that's the reason this is all happening. And it's to show my thanks for my guys and my department and what they've done for me and my boys, both of my sons are in this department," he said.

He started painting as a way to show his appreciation. After a lot of treatment and prayer, his cancer went away. Then he started his first big project, a table in the break room area of the station.

"The table is in two pieces. It's about 40 inches wide and 16 feet long. We were trying to decide what to do for legs and thought well we'll just make it like a trestle table and make wooden legs and go with it that way and then I had an idea. I had actually seen a picture of something similar using fire hydrants for the legs and I said let me make some phone calls and see if we can come up with some fire hydrants and KUB took care of me on that," he said.

One table, two murals, and another project in the future.

He described his vision. "We would like to make an action shot somewhere and actually airbrush it where you've got some actual figures and firemen and watering trucks involved so it's going to be a lot more complicated."

His motive isn't complicated. Dennis Noe just wants to thank his friends.

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