A Family on a Motorboat
ometimes Douglas Oelschlager's consuming twin loves — his family and fighting fires — conflicted. "I used to tell him all the time to get your priorities straight," said his wife of 13 years, Suzanne. It wasn't easy.
Firefighter Oelschlager, 36, had been a volunteer fireman on Long Island for nearly two decades before joining the New York Fire Department in 2000. Over time, he learned how to balance things. "He would try to make my life easier so he could go to his meetings," Ms. Oelschlager said. He gave their daughters, Kayla and Brittany, baths and cooked dinner before his wife got home from work so he could slip away from their house in St. James, on Long Island, to Fire Department meetings at night.
He slipped away from work sometimes, too, taking his family out on the water in their 32-foot motorboat, Island Hopper, which they took to the Hamptons, the Connecticut coast and even as far as Cape Cod, with Ms. Oelschlager the first mate.
During one of their favorite vacations, they moored the boat on the New Jersey side of New York Harbor so they could soak up the view of the Manhattan skyline.
Since Sept. 11, Ms. Oelschlager has become captain of the boat and Kayla and Brittany have become the first mates.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 10, 2002.