New book to detail history of Jefferson City Fire Department

Jefferson City firefighters and volunteers, right, power wash the old Fire Station No. 2 on East Miller Street.

Jefferson City firefighters and volunteers, right, power wash the old Fire Station No. 2 on East Miller Street.

One Jefferson City firefighter has completed a project detailing the entire history of the city’s Fire Department and he’s hoping it can help in another historical department project.

Capt. Tim Young has compiled the history of the local Fire Department, as well as information about the history of firefighting in general, into a new book, “Capital Smoke.” The book, which Young said is heading to the publisher this month, hopefully will be out in December.

Young said the book contains about 400 pictures and information going back to the beginning of Jefferson City in 1821, ending with the retirement of former Fire Chief Bob Rennick earlier this year.

Young said the book came out of a project originally started by a former fire captain who retired in 1996. In 2006, Young said he was asked to compile a short history of the department for the city’s website and the project grew from there, with Young collecting old log books and city ordinances going back to the mid-1800s.

“I’ve always been interested in it,” Young said. “There is so much history, I couldn’t fit it all in.”

But profits from the sale of the book, which are available for pre-order through Young, will help to create another monument to the department’s history — a fire museum.

Last year, the City Council endorsed a firefighter museum concept to be housed in the old Fire Station No. 2 on East Miller Street, which originally opened in 1935. Since then, firefighters and volunteers have been spending time refurbishing the old station, which was used until 1970, to its original state and gathering as many donations as possible for future exhibits.

Capt. Steve Holtmeier, chairman of the museum committee, said volunteers have been in the demolition phase, getting rid of wood paneling and dividers that didn’t exist in the building when it first opened.

“Our hope is to turn the old fire house into as close as it was when it was opened,” Holtmeier said.

Though the museum is at least one year away from being open to the public, Holtmeier said the committee is trying to get as much done as possible and gather as many donations as they can for exhibits.

The museum has not received any city funds and everything is being operated by donations, volunteer labor and in-kind services. Holtmeier said they hope Young’s book will help spur more progress on the museum.

“That’s the big issue right now,” Holtmeier said. “We’re operating on a shoestring budget ... (the book) is a big funding service for us.”

So far, volunteers have been improving the interior of the station and power washed the exterior, ridding the old stone work of mold. The plan is to return the firefighters quarters to their original state, complete with beds and brass poles to the trucks. One donation already in the station is an old fire engine from when the station was operational.

Young said he hopes to have a reception at the old station when “Capital Smoke” comes out in December, handing out books to those who ordered them and letting people walk through the station and see the progress on the museum.

“It will leave our firefighters a record of what they dealt with,” Young said.

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