John Steinbeck, Clark County deputy fire chief, will officially take the helm of the Fire Department in February, becoming the 11th leader in the agency’s history.
The Clark County Commission on Tuesday unanimously ratified Steinbeck’s appointment, effective Feb. 7. The 30-year department veteran will succeed retiring Chief Greg Cassell, who has been chief for nearly five years.
“This is just an amazing community. I’m just beaming with pride here today to be able to accept this important position,” Steinbeck, 48, told commissioners. “I love Clark County. I love our fire department. Anybody that knows me knows how often I’ll certainly speak to that at all times.”
He joined the department in 1990 and advanced through the ranks from firefighter to his current role as deputy chief, overseeing emergency management services, according to county officials. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science and Emergency Management from Purdue Global University and attained further education from the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security.
Steinbeck has also been with Southern Nevada’s FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team since 1993. He deployed to New York City shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, according to his biography.
He was the incident commander for the Family Assistance Center following the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, and he is a coordinator at the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, his biography shows.
Now Steinbeck, who was chosen through an internal recruitment process, stands to be in charge of the largest fire department in Nevada, with 700 paid full-time employees and roughly 200 rural volunteer firefighters. Commissioners said his appointment reflected a deep talent pool within the department.
Candidates participated in a first round of interviews and were narrowed to two finalists who were vetted by department employees in town hall meetings. Final interviews were conducted by Cassell and County Manager Yolanda King.
Steinbeck lauded county employees for their work and dedication, and praised police and community partners. He pledged the department would be a global leader in fire and emergency services during his tenure.
He joined the fire department 10 years after moving to Clark County from Southern California. Then-Fire Chief Roy L. Parrish had asked Steinbeck why he wanted to be a firefighter.
“I’ll tell you that my answer was pretty simple: I was a very young man at that time, and I just said I want to help people,” Steinbeck said. “I want to be part of a great team, and I want to do something that makes a difference. Well, this career has certainly given me that opportunity.”
Cassell, who was named fire chief in February 2015, will serve his last day Feb. 6, according to county officials.
Clark County Fire Department chiefs
— John Steinbeck, Feb. 7, 2020 –
— Greg Cassell, February 2015 – Feb. 6, 2020
— Betral T. Washington, November 2010 – December 2014
— Steven M. Smith, February 2006 – September 2010
— Earl A. Greene, November 1996 – February 2006
— William S. Bunker, June 1991 – November 1996
— Roy L. Parrish, December 1977 – December 1990
— Leroy O. Hawks, November 1974 – December 1977
— Clell Henley, February 1971 – November 1974
— Herman “Kit” Carson, December 1964 – January 1971
— William H. Trelease, January 1954 – December 1964
Source: Clark County