Excerpts from the northernstar.com:

DeKalb Fire Chief Jeff McMaster will retire after 26 years of working with the DeKalb Fire Department on Nov. 27. 

McMaster wanted to be a firefighter for as long as he can remember. Growing up in Chicago, he would walk past a fire station to get to school, and it really appealed to him. His favorite TV show was Emergency, which is about the Los Angeles County Fire Department. He saw firefighters as heroes, which drew him into the fire service. 

McMaster received his bachelor’s degree in business from DeVry University. Despite his business degree, he knew he still wanted to be a firefighter, so he was testing for departments while he was in college. 

He found his way to the DeKalb Fire Station after he explored the town when he found out about their testing. He was impressed with the structure of the fire station and its vehicles. He knew he wanted to be here because it was so different from where he grew up in Chicago, and he liked how the community of DeKalb was so put together. 

The best part about his job is seeing people help each other and the community coming together after a car accident or a house fire. McMaster said people would help bring the firefighters in or get food and drinks for the families affected. During his time as chief, he said his proudest moments came from being one of the largest response agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

McMaster gravitated to the public education team because he wanted to do more to reach the community and teach everyone from kids to the elderly how to be safer. He would teach children about smoke, educate people on CPR or fire extinguishers, and the elderly how to not fall and what to do in case of emergency. 

McMaster has also been on the Hazardous Materials Team since 1999. 

He chose to retire after he evaluated what’s good for the department and himself.