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Phillips requests Cairo fire chief to be named EMA deputy director

Pending the approval of the Cairo City Council, Cairo Fire Chief Bill Schafer will become the deputy director of the Grady County Emergency Management Agency.
EMA Director Richard Phillips made the recommendation for Schafer’s appointment to the Grady County Commission Tuesday night.
“This is a good fit. We work good together and I’m recommending Bill be appointed deputy director,” Phillips said.
The EMA director said that he learned after dealing with Hurricane Michael it would be valuable for him to have some assistance and a secondary contact for Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Manager Agency personnel to communicate with if Phillips was unavailable.
Phillips said that during the recent storm and now in the recovery it takes a team approach. He credited Chief Schafer for his work and that of his department in going above the call of duty to help wherever needed for the benefit of the public.
“It’s wonderful for the city and county to work together,” Grady County Commission Chairman Ray Prince said Tuesday night.
Vice Chairman T.D. David asked if Phillips was recommending the Cairo fire chief to be the deputy director or Chief Schafer himself. Phillips said his recommendation was Chief Schafer and not the post of Cairo fire chief. Vice Chairman David also asked if the county would be required to compensate Chief Schafer as EMA deputy director.
Grady County Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, said that it would be up to the city whether or not Schafer received additional compensation. “We are not hiring Chief Schafer, we are just asking the board to agree this juncture should be made,” the administrator said.
Commissioner LaFaye Copeland asked the city fire chief if he was prepared to assume this role and Schafer responded, “After this week if I’m not ready, I don’t know that I ever will be.”
“This would take a load off of me to get requests in for resources and serve as a back up for me,” Phillips said.
“You’ve learned from this event we are not going to get in your way. Y’all know what you are doing,” Chairman Prince said.
Phillips said he appreciated county leaders checking in to see if he needed anything, but then stepping back and allowing him and the others to do their jobs.
The county administrator thanked EMA Director Phillips for his management of the storm response and recovery efforts. He also said that some others had confronted Phillips over the past week, but they “should have kept their mouths shut.”
Administrator Johnson, who recently retired from the Georgia State Patrol, said he had been involved in a number of emergency management situations in his career and he credited Phillips for his management of the local situation. “The entire city and county came together and you did an amazing job,” the county administrator said.

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