“We live in an amazing area, with caring people and a beautiful landscape,” expresses Lake enthusiast Jeff Dorhauer. “Don’t take this for granted; it is something people in other areas wish they could have. Put some time into your community because you live in a community that will take care of you when you need it most.” Dorhauer’s been doing just that for nearly three decades, putting in time as a firehouse team member and supporter of the Lake as a whole.
Dorhauer is the Fire Chief at Osage Beach Fire Protection District. This courageous leader’s name is also synonymous with the
SHOOTOUT, the Lake Race and the Can Am Police and Fire Games. However, the names he cherishes most are husband, father and friend. Family was important to Dorhauer as he grew up alongside his five brothers and a sister in St. Louis County. He loved playing soccer in his youth. After high school, he was a counselor at a Catholic Youth Camp outside St. Louis where he met the beautiful counselor and “amazingly strong woman” he married, Diana. They are now celebrating 29 years of marriage and two children, Jeffrey, 26, and Erica, 21.
The family moved to the Lake in 1989 and the children grew up here. Dorhauer worked at a Lake resort, and was asked by a fellow employee if he’d like to become a volunteer fireman. “Needless to say I fell in love with the job and the department, and 29 years later here I am,” he says.
He has progressed from Firefighter, Lieutenant, Captain, Deputy Fire Chief and now to Fire Chief. Through the many terrible tragedies of responding to car and boat accidents, loss of homes and lives, Dorhauer remains a positive encourager to his crews and the community.
“The SHOOTOUT event was started in 1988 by Fran Steingrubey, John Page and Kevin Hrubise,” Dorhauer explains. “The first few years the charity receiving the proceeds changed [each year] until the third or fourth year when it went to local Fire Districts. It was at that point we took over the event and it went from there.” The international event is currently benefiting numerous Lake charities and managed by a seven-member volunteer board and an executive director.
“Again, all these events are done to bring people to this area,” he says. “I know full well if we get them here once, they will come back. It’s not because of me. It’s because of the people in this area who represent us all so well.”
A favorite motto of Dorhauer’s is “If you only do what you’ve always done, you’ll only be as good as you’ve ever been,” by Robert Murgallis. He not only often shares these words with others, but also actively lives them and continues to improve the Lake community.
Q&A
Q. WHAT’S MOST DIFFICULT ABOUT YOUR POSITION AND CAREER?
A. The calls that involve children. These types of calls are the ones that stay with you throughout your career. You question your tactics and whether you did everything you possibly could have done on that particular call. You see the faces of your own children, your nephews or nieces as you are trying to save these young lives. We train in order to intervene in a positive manner, to save lives. When we face a call with loss of life, especially a child, it is defeating.
Q. DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR?
A. I did. Phil Hurtubise taught me more about the Fire Service and the history of this department than anyone I know. His knowledge of fire tactics and department history were second to none. Those informal conversations helped me define my career and my views on what a Fire District should represent to the public we serve.
Q. WHAT PROFESSIONAL ADVICE CAN YOU SHARE?
A. This is easy, two things; First, safety is more common sense than anything else. It truly is that simple. Second, I have had this on every email I have written for nearly 20 years: Smoke Detectors Save Lives. Please make sure you have smoke detectors, make sure you test them, and if you are not able, call your local fire department. We will help every way we can to get you working smoke detectors.
Q. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MEMORIES?
A. I have so many of them but probably the most significant are the people I have met and friended over the years because of the SHOOTOUT.
Q. WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
A. I recently signed an additional three-year contract with the Fire District, so my immediate plans are to help this department grow with the community. I also want to make sure that if I leave in three years that it is a better place than when I joined. That is a difficult proposition because this department has had so many amazing people come through the doors over the past 50-plus years. •