Don Hahne, who served 13 years as Washington fire chief, said when he joined the volunteer department 60 years ago, he thought it would be fun.
“When I started I was 19. I thought it would be fun to go to fires and squirt water,” Hahne said Monday when he was honored during the city council meeting. “Then I found out it was pretty serious business.”
During the meeting, Mayor Sandy Lucy presented Hahne with a mayor’s proclamation and Fire Chief Bill Halmich gave him an engraved glass plaque from members of the fire company. It will hang in the department’s Headquarters Fire Station on 14th Street.
Rob Schrage, representing the FireFighters Association of Missouri (FFAM), presented Hahne with the Phil Sayer Lifetime Achievement Award which originally was given to Hahne at the FFAM Annual Convention in April.
In the past, Hahne served on the FFAM board and served as vice president and president of the organization.
Hahne served as Washington fire chief from 1968 through 1981. Before that he served as captain and company secretary and assistant chief.
During his career, Hahne received numerous citations of merit for service and was named Firefighter of the Year in 1984.
“I’ve been a plain, old fireman for 31 years,” Hahne told the crowd that packed the council chambers. “I don’t do much anymore,” he said, noting that his main job is safety man at the bottom of the ladder.
“I’m very proud to be a fireman for 60 years,” he remarked. “It’s been a pleasure.”
He thanked his wife, Joan, for her support. “None of this would be possible without her,” Hahne said.
Joan Hahne was a charter member of the fire department’s Ladies Auxiliary and its first president. She also was president of the state auxiliary.
“This is a great honor for me,” Don Hahne remarked.
He received several standing ovations during the presentations.
Halmich pointed out that the plaque is engraved with the title “The Hahne Example,” which describes Hahne’s constant leadership and professional service to the community.
Halmich said Hahne’s service is indicative of the types of volunteers in Washington.
“Most of our members don’t come and go,” Halmich noted.