Orlando fire chief resigns following arrest on assault charges in North Carolina

Deputy Orlando Fire Chief Craig Buckley will continue to serve as interim chief, department says

Orlando Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale is on paid leave. (WKMG 2021)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Benjamin Barksdale has resigned as the chief of the Orlando Fire Department nearly two months after his arrest in North Carolina on assault charges.

Barksdale submitted his resignation letter to the city which said Friday would be his last day.

Read the full text of the letter below:

Good evening Mr. Edmonds, (Kevin)

Please accept this letter as formal notification that I am resigning from my position as City of Orlando Fire Chief. My last day will be Friday October 22. I am submitting my resignation in best interest to the City of Orlando due to the languishing legal process with resolving the allegations against me from the City of Charlotte NC.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve as Fire Chief for this wonderful city. I’ve greatly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunities I’ve had in working with all of the men and women of OFD. I also enjoyed working as part of the Mayors management team.

I wish OFD and the City of Orlando continued success, and I hope to stay in touch in the future.


Ben Barksdale

Barksdale's resignation letter as provided by the City of Orlando

Barksdale was arrested on Tuesday, Aug. 24 and has been suspended with pay since a warrant for his arrest was issued on Aug. 16.

Barksdale was arrested by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina and charged with assault and battery and assault on a female.

The former fire chief is accused of punching a woman in the face, court records show.

Deputy Orlando Fire Chief Craig Buckley has been acting as the fire chief since Barksdale’s suspension and will continue to serve as chief until a new fire chief is appointed, according to the city.

Barksdale was announced as Orlando’s fire chief in September of 2019 after his predecessor, former Fire Chief Roderick Williams, resigned amid allegations of harassment and retaliation. 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, 2019.

Barksdale was sworn in on Dec. 2, 2019. Before taking the helm of the Orlando Fire Department, Barksdale served as the fire chief of Prince George’s County, Maryland. He began his career in 1987 with the Arlington County Fire Department in Virginia where he rose up in the ranks to the assistant fire chief.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.