Jackson County Fire District No. 3 is close to making it official with a new chief.

Robert Horton, who serves as Las Vegas Fire & Rescue's assistant chief, has received a conditional offer to head up the department formerly led by Dan Petersen, Fire District 3 officials reported.

Medical and psychological evaluations are still underway, and a salary is to be determined. The department's advertised salary range during the hiring process was $130,000 to $142,000.

A formal announcement is expected in three to four weeks, but fire officials are confident.

"Things are moving," said Stacy Maxwell, District 3's interim CEO and fire chief. "We just need to make sure we follow the process."

If hired, Horton would oversee eight fire stations — four manned round-the-clock, and four staffed on a volunteer basis — that cover an area of 167 square miles, including the homes of more than 51,000 residents around Central Point, White City, Eagle Point, Gold Hill, Sams Valley, Dodge Bridge and Agate Lake. He would oversee 63 full-time employees and 30 volunteers.

Petersen left the district in mid-January for a chief's job at the Unified Fire Authority in Salt Lake County, Utah. Horton was one of 22 candidates who applied to replace him, Maxwell said. The district began a recruitment process in December 2016 and received resumes from across the U.S., including Oregon, Washington, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio and Nevada.

A selection committee, which consisted of two district board members and a recruiter, narrowed the candidate pool to four. The finalists were invited to interview March 6 and 7. Following that process, Horton passed a background check, which included talks to past employers, family members and the candidate.

"We do have a very thorough vetting process," Maxwell said.

The department board made a conditional offer at a meeting last Thursday. 

"He possessed a lot of good leadership skills," Maxwell said. "He'll bring in some new, I think, innovative thinking and approaches as to where the fire service is heading.

Horton, 37, has served with Las Vegas Fire & Rescue since October 2000, according to his LinkedIn profile. He started as a firefighter and paramedic, and was promoted to captain in February 2012. He has served as assistant fire chief since March 2014. He was also listed as an adjunct instructor at the College of Southern Nevada from January 2008 to December 2010. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a master's degree in public administration in 2009.

In a telephone interview, Horton said he's been excited about the opportunity since it came up. He referred to Fire District 3 as "truly a best-practice fire service organization."

The move would also put him closer to his parents, who live on the Oregon Coast.

"It is obviously humbling and a tremendous honor," Horton said. "The candidate pool was fantastic. I'm honored that the board has chosen me."

— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.