After 30 years in the career of public service, Osage Beach Fire District Chief Jeff Dorhauer is packing up the hoses and ladders and moving into retirement. He says it’s been a fulfilling career and one that he will always look back on fondly.

After 30 years in the career of public service, Osage Beach Fire District Chief Jeff Dorhauer is packing up the hoses and ladders and moving into retirement. He says it’s been a fulfilling career and one that he will always look back on fondly.

However, it wasn’t always the intention of Dorhauer to seek out a life as a firefighter. His career began in the hotel industry in St. Louis. In 1989, he was relocated to the lake and would began work at the Lodge of the Four Seasons. He says that one day while working at the Lodge, a bartender approached him and asked if he might be interested in being a volunteer firefighter in Osage Beach. That began a path that would lead to his long career. 

Dorhauer continued work at the Lodge while volunteering at the fire department until 1996 when he finally took a full-time paid position for the department. Although he never intended to become a firefighter, it turned out to be one of the best decision’s he ever made.
“I had dreams growing up of being a fire truck, that’s the only connection I really had,” Dorhauer said.

In 1998, he continued to rise the ranks of the district and was promoted to captain, commanding a crew. He would be promoted to deputy chief in 2001 and finally promoted to district fire chief in 2006. For the last 13 years, Dorhauer has been running this position and will retire with 30 years of service.

As some lake residents will remember, there was a short portion of Dorhauer’s career that he recalls as being one of the most significant. He was fired from the district in 2008, and he says that this time was when he felt the most support from the community-at- large. He remembers having many members of the lake community rally in support. He says those six weeks were humbling, but it heavily reinforced that this was a community that he wanted to be a part of.

Dorhauer sees his career as being unique, with his service area being in the heart of the Lake of the Ozarks. He says he has been able to raise a family in an environment where he and so many others are able to make a difference through community service. In fact, community service is one of the staples that he says defines his career. He says that, while firefighters are in a service industry, he believes that contributing to community service is just part of the job. 

“Joining the fire service has allowed me opportunities that I never would have had if I stayed in a career of hotel management,” Dorhauer said. 

Now, Dorhauer will pass the reigns onto newly installed Chief Paul Berardi. He says that he knew mentally that now was the time to retire. He says that he didn’t want to stay around too long and become bitter by staying around too long. He says he wants his 30 years of service to always be a positive memory that he can look back on. 

“Thirteen years in this position is a long time and I really think it’s time for some new ideas and fresh perspectives to keep this department moving forward,” Dorhauer said. 

Among the many accomplishments over his tenure alongside the other board members, Dorhauer says that the memorial site outside Station #1 is at the top of his list. He says that it represents the commemorative nature of all service members in the area who gave their lives for the residents in the area.

Dorhauer plans to continue working within the community and says that anyone who wants to come say hello before his final day at the station is more than welcome to come by. His final day at the station will be December 27.