As a kid, Dan Hauss was always around firefighters. His father — who worked as a firefighter mechanic for Deptford Township — would often take his sons to the firehouse and even bring them along during fires.
“We were always around as kids, so I always had an interest in it,” recalled Hauss, who has been named the Mantua Township Fire District’s first full-time deputy fire chief. “My whole family has been in public service their whole lives, so it just runs in my blood. I always wanted to hold a higher position, but I figured it would come in a couple more years, not as soon as it did.
“I love where I work. I grew up in this town. I like serving these people.”
Hauss was elevated at the beginning of the year, after 15 years of rising in the district ranks. At 16, he became a junior firefighter at the Barnsboro Fire Company, one of the four individual companies that has since been regionalized as the Mantua fire district. When he turned 21, he became a volunteer lieutenant, then volunteer captain, all while working as a diesel mechanic for Ford.
He eventually got hired to full-time in 2012 as a firefighter mechanic, following his father’s footsteps.
“He was always somebody I looked up to,” Hauss noted. “He was always somebody I could bounce a question off of. It just makes it a little easier to have that person to be able to talk to about stuff.”
As deputy chief, Hauss is involved in the day-to-day management of the department, answering resident’s calls, making sure crews are ready for departure and maintaining equipment for a crew of about 15 volunteers and 17 paid employees.
Even in his new position, Hauss still gets to do what he considers his favorite part of the job: fight fire. But the father of two doesn’t fight fire like he used to.
“What’s the thing you worry about the most? Death,” he explained. “The close calls that we go into. I want to go home and see my kids at night. It was different four years ago, when I didn’t have kids, I’d run into a house and not be worried about anything other than my wife.
“Now I have two kids at home that want to see me when I’m done work.”
Hauss often brings his children to the firehouse, just like his dad used to do. The only difference? He doesn’t bring them to live fires.
“It’s a different time, different world,” he noted. “When we were kids, we were standing on the front lawn of a house fire and everybody knew who we were. Now, it’s a different world that I’m bringing my kids in, but I also don’t want them to be scared of what I do.
“I want them to have an understanding of what I do.”