As a fire fighter for the Peoria Fire-Medical Department, Capt. Hunter Clare was badly injured in an explosion at an APS battery facility in Surprise in April of 2019, and has yet to return to full duty work.
But his presence has remained a shining beacon, as he continues to impact his department and community.
Serving as the department’s training captain, Clare is responsible for mandatory and other training for the department of nearly 200 members.
After being hired by the department he was promoted through the ranks from firefighter to engineer to captain. Along the way he has developed and implemented many programs for the betterment of the department.
And that betterment extends to the community.
Clare has been involved with countless outreach services and events including pool/drowning prevention fence installs, smoke detector installs, teaching children to read and the importance of CPR in schools, Habitat for Humanity, coaching and mentoring in sports, as well as being involved with the Arizona Burn Foundation.
He is the president of the Peoria Firefighter Charities Executive Board and the Peoria Firefighters Union Executive Board. Clare has assisted his brothers and sisters in the International Association Of Fire Fighters across the country through political work and education to create safer working conditions for firefighters nationwide.
His touch as a mentor, trainer and labor advocate has been far reaching.
“I have been able to work as an instructor across the Valley for firefighting strategies, HAZMAT operations, and paramedic training, serving as a recruit training officer for the college and regional academies to train the next generation,” he said. “Assisting our members to be successful in whichever areas they pursue in their lives, and knowing those who have been touched by the great things our union does through its charitable and union work has been rewarding.”
For his work in the community and in the fire-medical department, Clare has been named the Peoria Independent Hometown Hero in the First Responders category.
The Hometown Heroes Awards are a celebration of individuals who live or teach in the city, and Peoria businesses for their local achievements and distinguished contributions to the community.
Clare will be honored at an awards luncheon next year.
In partnership with the city of Peoria, he also will be interviewed by the city and aired on Channel 11.
Get to know Clare here.
What I like most about living in Peoria?
It is a quiet and safe community that is close to many of the people I love and care about, with easy access to other areas of the county and state. It has many outdoor activities, beautiful open spaces, generally friendly people, and an endless potential if we can open up a little more from our hyper reserved roots.
What does it mean to be a Peoria resident?
It means whatever you want it to mean. A person can choose to watch the community they live in grow or they can choose to impact it. I’m lucky enough to live in Peoria, utilize Peoria resources, pay into the Peoria coffers to support growth and expansion, while getting to give back through community involvement, and in the best career a person can choose to help those in need, and identify areas of need to make our entire community a better place to live, work and play.
What do you think you bring to the local community that makes it better?
Hopefully I have the chance to bring a smile, understanding ear, and the ability to leave the community a little bit better than it was before, which should be the goal of all of us.
What would you tell people about why it’s important to make a difference?
None of us get to where we are in life alone and if you can always remember that, you are just one step ahead or behind the person you are looking at. It takes just a little bit of effort to make us all better.
Changes I’d like to see in this area.
Well, that has many parts to it and since I am an employee of the city, I probably don’t have full rights to speak to everything that is on my mind, but generally I would like to continue to see our city grow and be a leader in the West Valley and then in the state, as a place people want to work live and grow together. We have tremendous resources, layout, and people. If we could be a little less conservative and invest in our full future, the limits are endless to what the city of Peoria can do and be.
What has your family taught you?
They have taught me loyalty, hard work and kindness to others. My family surely hasn’t been perfect, not even close, but family isn’t always the ones you are born to, they can be those you meet along the way. It is a mixture of all the experiences we have in life that makes us who we are, so you have to take in all the good and bad and just digest it and be thankful for the person it has made you. If you aren’t, well, I guess you chose not to learn from those things and change them for a way you might do it better. I have been lucky enough to have amazing people in my life and they have kicked me in the butt and checked any ego when I needed it, but also given me a hug and picked me up when I missed the mark.
My interests and hobbies:
Well since my injuries some of these things have taken a backseat or had to be modified, but I enjoy spending time with the people that are most important to me and just sharing some laughs, playing sports, working out, hiking/backpacking. I used to enjoy reading but the brain doesn’t do as well with it these days. But learning new things is awesome, enjoying a great open conversation about anything, training my dog Samuel, and spending time traveling with my girlfriend Makayla probably with a nice glass of red wine when possible.
The trait(s) I admire in others:
Selflessness, kindness and the willingness to help others. It is easy to look out for yourself, but it is more important to push yourself to a level that allows you to help others.
People who inspired me (and how):
Wow, that question really puts you on blast if you miss someone, so I’m a little bit scared to answer that, so I will throw out a few groups and then maybe some names that taught me how to do things the right way.
My friends and family – They are the people that made me who I am. They may have taken far more swings with misses than the normal folks, and picked some rough paths to walk, but the best things in life are only enjoyed after a whole lot of hard work. Without people willing to do the dirty work, the rest of the people wouldn’t get to enjoy a beautiful world. I love you all. You know who I’m talking about. They were also the first ones at the burn center after a major call when the exploded and were ready to deal with the worst that our career might bring. They never blinked, never wavered, and never let me feel sorry or quit on anything or anyone. They, along with my crew, are the reason I’m able to even sit here and write answers to these questions, and they are the type of people you really should be interviewing or getting to know.
Randy Lowry and Gregg Clare – These two men had one goal, and that was to produce men that would be productive members of society and give back more than they ever thought to take. They never let you take the easy way out on anything and they ensured you knew that this whole ride was bigger than you, so be tough to deal with the adversity but be compassionate and willing give back even if it’s just a hug at that moment when another needs to know they aren’t alone.
Gary Bernard and Roger Russell – Without these two men, I never would have had the chance to be a Peoria fire-medical firefighter and give back to the community and the members. They took a chance on a young kid that knew nothing about the fire service except how it ran in his family, and saw something that allowed him to have a career with the best department in the state of Arizona. They looked out for me when I made the young booter mistakes, taught me what strength, honor, and compassion really meant to the citizens and department. They challenged me to realize the fire service family is way bigger than you and isn’t just a job but a commitment to always put others first and make something just a little bit better than it was when it was loaned to you. Chief Mark Nichols, retired from Glendale, Peoria, and Daisy Mountain use to always say, “We are just stewards of the Maltese that is on our shirts. Don’t tarnish what is loaned to you and make sure you give it back in better shape because there are thousands that sacrificed just so you could have a chance to do right by someone else that might be in need, big or small.”
Gary has served as my barometer and Roger has served as my father, without men of their integrity and stature, I don’t think I would have fully understood what being a firefighter is truly supposed to be about, I also wouldn’t have been able to make the decisions I have had to make on tough calls had they not taken hours to sink their knowledge into my thick skull.
The people that believe in others – Every time I hear a story or see a person(s) do a little thing for no other reason than it is what needs to be done in that moment and at that time, I am inspired to know that although we seem to be very polarized and politicized at the moment and fighting more than ever standing on opposite ends, we really are one little thing away from being the same. And that’s the real thing. We are all on this journey. We only get one ticket to ride it, so we can find the common ground in the middle, and just make it better. We can enjoy a moment of togetherness in any struggle, a smile in any light, and a laugh with a total stranger and know we are the same.
My guiding philosophy.
I am strong if you are strong, so we are strong. Basically, no one gets through this journey alone, so make sure you make those that are a part of your life a little bit better and they will do the same for you.
My advice to today’s youth.
Don’t be afraid to be the person you are. None of our futures are written yet, so take in what the world brings your way, learn from it, and choose to influence the world as much as your world influences you. But don’t forget this whole race is bigger than just you, so put your hand out and pick some people up along your way and take them on your journey or help them accomplish theirs.
Name a couple future goals.
I always wanted to finish a complete Ironman race, but I never really put it out there as a must do. I think since my injuries, I would like to push myself back to a high-performance level and see if I could pull that off. I would like to hike all the trails in the Grand Canyon and maybe get a permit to backpack, tip to tip. But mostly, I would like to create some memorable moments with the people I care about the most and make sure that they know I truly cherish them and owe them for putting up with me and both pushing me to be a better version and picking me up when I crash and burn both, figuratively and literally.
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