SOUTH PORTLAND — Deputy Fire Chief Jim Wilson is expected to be sworn in as the city’s new fire chief early next week after serving 20 years with the Fire Department.

Wilson will replace Acting Fire Chief Miles Haskell, a deputy chief who has been filling the top spot since the former fire chief, Kevin Guimond, resigned in November to take a job in the private sector. Guimond had been chief since 2003. Haskell is set to retire July 12 after 43 years with the department.

Wilson assumes leadership of a department that recently became the first in Maine and one of only 100 fire departments nationwide to receive a coveted Class 1 rating from a national insurance risk assessment agency.

The Insurance Services Office reviews the staffing levels, training, equipment, water supply, inspection rates and communications capabilities of 40,000 departments nationwide. The high rating could reduce insurance rates as much as 4 percent for some home and business owners, though property owners likely would have to request a reduction to get one.

“It will be an overarching goal to maintain that rating after working so many years to achieve it,” Wilson said Tuesday.

Wilson said he has some ideas for initiatives that he’d like to promote in the department, which has nearly 70 employees and volunteers, but he plans to seek input from staff members before announcing plans or taking action. The police and fire departments have come under scrutiny lately for having few women or minority members.

Appointed by City Manager Jim Gailey, Wilson was among eight applicants who took the civil service exam to become chief. The city’s Civil Service Commission selected five finalists to be interviewed.

Gailey set up an interview panel to recommend a candidate for appointment. The panel that chose Wilson consisted of Melissa Linscott, a business owner and former city councilor; Capt. Michael Baroody, a commander of the U.S. Coast Guard; Don Brewer, the city’s human resources director; Police Chief Edward Googins; Portland Fire Chief David Jackson; Chris Joyce, fabrication manager, Texas Instruments; and Assistant City Manager Josh Reny.

“There were some excellent candidates overall, but (Wilson) was the perfect candidate,” Linscott said. “He by far had the experience and training to slip right into the position.”

Wilson, 44, is a third-generation firefighter who grew up in Cape Elizabeth and lives with his family in South Portland. He joined the department in 1996, becoming a lieutenant in 2006 and a deputy chief in 2012. His annual salary will be $88,000.

Wilson has an associate degree in fire science from Southern Maine Technical College and a bachelor’s degree in applied technical leadership from the University of Southern Maine. He’s working toward a master’s in emergency services management from Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Wilson started his career as a volunteer firefighter in Cape Elizabeth and worked as a part-time firefighter in Scarborough from 2007 to 2012. He holds multiple licenses and certifications, including firefighter, chief officer, master merchant mariner, forest firefighter, open water diver and fire service instructor.