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New Orlando Fire Chief Wants to Make Workplace More Welcoming to Female Recruits

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Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale Jr. talks with Mayor Buddy Dyer. Photo: City of Orlando

Orlando has a new fire chief: Benjamin Barksdale Jr. 

Barksdale has been the fire chief in Prince George’s County Maryland since 2017. 

He says he wants to recruit more women to the Orlando Fire Department by changing the workplace culture. 

“Everyone deserves to be respected and have dignity in the workplace. And I will definitely make sure that that occurs. Having a more diverse workforce only makes the department stronger.”


Barksdale says he also wants to retain more women in leadership roles by offering them professional development opportunities. 

He replaces former OFD Chief Roderick Williams who resigned after an EEOC investigation found he had sexually harassed his female assistant fire chief.

Earlier this week Williams who denies these allegations filed a complaint with the EEOC against the City of Orlando saying he had been forced out of the position. 

Mayor Buddy Dyer said Barksdale worked on initiatives to diversify the workforce at his other departments.

“We want to make sure that the Fire Department also represents the diversity of our community both in terms of having females and having people of color.”

Barksdale will take over from Interim Orlando Fire Chief Rich Wales on November 15.

If you’d like to listen to the story, click on the clip above.

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »