Retired firefighter Terry Dabney responded to almost 2,000 emergency calls in a 24-year career with the Osage Beach Fire Protection District. Despite the time passage, Dabney still remembers his first firefighting call in 1986.


Dabney responded to a multiple-vehicle accident on the Hurricane Deck Bridge involving a tanker truck and two or three other vehicles. The truck overturned and caught fire, killing the driver. A woman in one of the other vehicles died in the fire.


“They were newlyweds. He was able to get out. She wasn’t,” Dabney recalled.

Dabney joined the fire department as a volunteer in 1986. Capt. Steve Lucas learned the trade on Dabney’s shift.


“Every firefighter has a litmus test that finds out—it’s a gut check. It finds out if you are going to do this job, or if you are just not right for the job. Terry’s very first call was one of those type of calls,” Lucas said.


“I’m glad it wasn’t my last,” Dabney added.


Retired firefighter Terry Dabney responded to almost 2,000 emergency calls in a 24-year career with the Osage Beach Fire Protection District. Despite the time passage, Dabney still remembers his first firefighting call in 1986.

Dabney responded to a multiple-vehicle accident on the Hurricane Deck Bridge involving a tanker truck and two or three other vehicles. The truck overturned and caught fire, killing the driver. A woman in one of the other vehicles died in the fire.

“They were newlyweds. He was able to get out. She wasn’t,” Dabney recalled.
Dabney joined the fire department as a volunteer in 1986. Capt. Steve Lucas learned the trade on Dabney’s shift.

“Every firefighter has a litmus test that finds out—it’s a gut check. It finds out if you are going to do this job, or if you are just not right for the job. Terry’s very first call was one of those type of calls,” Lucas said.

“I’m glad it wasn’t my last,” Dabney added.

Dabney became one of the fire district’s first paid firefighters in 1991. On Saturday, he became the first Osage Beach firefighter to be given a formal retirement ceremony. Deputy Fire Chief Terry Paul presented Dabney with his helmet, bearing his radio call number, 193.

His family shed tears of joy as an emergency dispatcher officially announced his retirement over the emergency radio.

Dabney shared another firefighting memory. On his 32nd birthday, his father-in-law held a corn roast for Dabney. At the outdoor party, Dabney noticed a fire engine speed by with lights and sirens blaring.

“I said, ‘I think I’ll be back a little later.’ I didn’t get back until late that evening. It was a brush fire, and one of the things that you remember and sticks out in your mind,” Dabney recounted.

Dabney added that some calls have been blocked from his memory.

“You just can’t remember them all. There are a lot of them that you put back away that you don’t want to remember,” Dabney said. “Everybody that’s sitting here in a blue uniform (firefighters) knows what I’m talking about. There are some that you enjoy, that were good calls, then there are some that you don’t want to do it again.”

Deputy Chief Paul made two key points in congratulating the retired firefighter.

“You did it probably because you wanted to, you had the desire to serve, and you care about people,” Paul said, and then added that Dabney’s other accomplishment to note is that he stayed with the department as long as he did and was able to retire.

“We all know that firefighting is a dangerous career,” Paul said.

“As a member of this department, you have impacted many lives over the last 24 years in a positive way. As I am proud to have served with you, you should be proud of the work you have done,” Osage Beach Fire Chief Jeff Dorhauer wrote in a formal letter to Dabney.

Dabney also received a retired American flag that flew over Fire Station One on Bluff Drive.

Contact this reporter at rance.burger@lakesunonline.com.