The Murphysboro City Council has approved a 15 percent raise for Murphysboro Fire Chief Steve Swafford, effective Jan. 1.
"Still planning on retiring soon, aren't you, chief?" asked Mayor Will Stephens.
"Yes," Swafford said to a good-natured round of laughter and applause.
The mayor thanked Swafford for his service.
"When you are talking about fighting fires, you need people who have a certain calmness about them," Stephens said. "In the five years I've known him, chief Swafford has been calm and measured in everything he does."
Swafford was born and raised in Murphysboro. He was hired as a paid, on-call firefighter in November 1991 and hired full-time in May 1993. Swafford was appointed interim chief in April 2010 and was appointed fire chief in May 2011.
While service as fire chief, Swafford secured a grant from the State Fire Marshal for $26,000 to purchase a breathing air compressor, and a grant from FEMA of $266,000 for a new fire engine.
Chief Swafford has established new protocols and duties, including increased training, hydrant testing and preplanning of buildings for the Fire Department, which has led to the lowering of the Murphysboro Fire Department's ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating from a 6 to a 4.
Chief Swafford also implemented the Medical First Responder program in the fire department, which supports the Jackson County Ambulance by providing service when requested.