Dan Petersen

Fire District 3 chief offered Utah job

The chief of Jackson County Fire District No. 3 has been offered a job at the Salt Lake City area's largest fire department.

Dan Petersen has been offered a job as fire chief with the Unified Fire Authority in Salt Lake County, Utah's largest fire agency with 28 fire stations and 550 staff members, according to a release issued today by Fire District 3. He has not officially accepted.

"The job is not mine yet," Petersen said today, adding that the offer is pending a background check, which will bring representatives from the Utah agency to Oregon next week. "This position for now has been more about the fit than anything else — I've been a good fit here at the district, and now it's time for the UFA to determine if I'm a good fit for them."

The announcement Wednesday was a move toward maintaining transparency, according to Petersen. Fire District 3 board President Jim Gillin said Petersen has kept the board in the loop throughout the recruiting process, which began in September.

"If it doesn't work out, I'm extremely happy here," Petersen said.

If Petersen accepts the job, he will give a 30-day notice.

Gillin said the board will discuss processes for appointing Petersen's interim replacement and permanent hire in public meetings only after he hands in his notice.

"We hate to see him go," Gillin said. "He's been a very stabilizing asset for the district."

Petersen said a recruiter began contacting him in September and encouraged him to apply. Petersen said he was drawn to the size and complexity of the Utah agency, which protects more than a half million people in nine cities and unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County, and has a board structure that's similar to Fire District 3.

Petersen has been Fire District 3 chief for six years, and has spent his 37-year firefighting career in Southern Oregon. 

The Utah agency's 12-member board liked Petersen's extensive fire safety experience, which began in 1979 as a volunteer firefighter with Valley Fire Service, according to a Unified Fire Agency release.

"He is the right man for the job and brings an incredible wealth of experience and knowledge to the position," UFA Vice Chair Chris Pengra said in the release.

At Valley Fire Service, Petersen moved up the ranks to captain before joining Medford Fire-Rescue in 1988.

He worked in Medford until 2010, first as a battalion chief, then as emergency medical services chief and rising to become the agency's emergency medical services chief and deputy chief of administration and training.

During his time at Fire District 3, Petersen said he's proudest of the strategic plan system he developed for the agency, drawing input from cities, schools and the community to identify strengths and weaknesses. 

"I made it as simple a process as I could," Petersen said.

In the past six years, he's also worked on initiatives to develop Fire District 3 staff through cross-training initiatives and partnerships with agencies such as Metro Safety and Fire in the Portland area, he said.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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