Orlando taps Maryland fire chief to lead city's fire department

Benjamin Barksdale Jr. currently oversee Prince George's County Fire Department

Benjamin Barksdale Jr. is Orlando's new fire chief.
Benjamin Barksdale Jr. is Orlando's new fire chief.

More than seven months after the former Orlando Fire Department chief resigned amid harassment allegations Orlando will have a new fire chief starting in November.

Former Chief Rodreick Williams was with the fire department for 23 years prior to submitting his resignation letter in February to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

Richard Wales served as interim fire chief following Williams departure.

On Thursday, Dyer announced Benjamin Barksdale Jr. as the city's next fire chief. He will start Nov. 15. 

Barksdale is currently the fire chief of Prince George's County in Maryland, which includes 45 fire stations and serves a population of 900,000.

According to a news release, Barksdale started his career as a firefighter in Arlington County and was among the first responders to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack at the Pentagon.

During his introduction to Orlando Thursday, Barksdale said he dreamed of being a firefighter since he was 8 years old and felt blessed serve the communities in the DC-Capitol region for 32 years.

Barksdale will prioritize access to mental health programs and treatment for his firefighters, according to the city's news release.

The city also emphasized that Barksdale's current fire department in Maryland is diverse, with women and minorities in leadership roles.

Prior to stepping down, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined Williams and two deputy chiefs discriminated against a female employee, according to a report issued Feb. 13.

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