Book Review – Capitol City Fireman by Jake Rixner

Capitol City Fireman
Author: Jake Rixner
Web site: Friesen Press
Published: 2010
Publisher: Friesen Press
ISBN: 978-1-77067-128-7 (hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-77067-129-4 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-77067-130-0 (ebook)
Pages: 205 + black and white pictures
Cost: $24.95 hardback; $14.99 paperback

Purchase the book here

I recently finished reading Capitol City Fireman by Jake Rixner. This book hit close to home because I grew up in the suburbs of Richmond during my formidable years. I also began my firefighting life in the outskirts of Richmond at the Midlothian VFD in Chesterfield County. However, my closest relationship to the Richmond FD was when I worked for the Richmond Ambulance Authority. While I didn’t fight fire in Richmond, I did get to see Richmond’s Bravest in action…even if it was 15-20 years after this book begins. I can relate to many of the landmarks, streets, and firehouses mentioned in this book and remember them well.

When I started the book, I instantly knew this would be a great firefighting book… I say this because in the first paragraph Rixner is able to relate to firefighters:

The evening meal at 5 Engine was drawing to a close as the men were washing the dishes, Gene-O, the cook, was sitting in a chair reading the newspaper and enduring the nightly playful banter, “Who called the cook a mother fucker?” Bryan Lam called out. The usual reply quickly, “Who called that mother fucker a cook?” Laughter filled the kitchen as all 12 men on duty truly enjoyed working with each other.” (*text from Capitol City Fireman page 1)

After reading that first paragraph of the book, I was hooked. It was hard to put down and often I found myself laughing out loud at the antics included in the book. Jake’s firefighting career started in Station 5 in  Monroeville, PA. From there he found himself in West Lanham Hills VFD in Prince George’s County, Maryland. His career as a paid firefighter found him working for the Richmond Fire Department in Richmond, VA.

Jake began working for the RFD in 1982. Historically, I would consider this era as the eve of America Burning. Fires were the norm as fire departments began grasping the need for fire prevention.

Jake tells great stories about fires fought in Richmond. Many of the firefighters Jake writes about were true characters. Firefighters who stand out in their personalities and abilities. The firehouse tales told in the book are ones that firefighters across the Nation can relate… and that if they were to happen this day in age we would be fired.

Jake also took a leave from Richmond to take a try at being a fireman in Washington D.C. What he found out was that he had a great assignment in Richmond and he found himself at a less than ideal assignment in DC. Jake returned to Richmond and eventually went through the promotional process.

Jake goes into depth on his experience with promotions. Those experiences are ones that many firefighters can relate to as being “the way it is” and not “the way it should be”.

Capitol City Fireman is a book about fires, firefighting, and life in the firehouse. Rixner does a great job in portraying his experiences in the Richmond Fire Department.

Jake Rixner

Jake Rixner grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa. and became interested in firefighting at an early age. After graduating high school, he packed his bags and moved into a volunteer fire house in Prince George’s County Maryland in search of a career fireman’s position. After taking numerous exams he landed a job with the Richmond, Va. Fire Bureau. This is his story. Jake has written several articles for Fire Engineering magazine and wrote two chapters in a fire training text book. He has lectured nationwide on topics of firefighter training, and tactics. He currently resides in Doswell, Virginia with his wife, Julie.

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