• Orlando Fire Department chief candidates down to five

    By: Shannon Butler , Katlyn Brieskorn

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - The city of Orlando's list of candidates for the Orlando Fire Chief position is down to five.

    This is the first time the city has had to look outside the department for a chief.

    The position opened up when Chief Rod Williams resigned after he was accused of sexual harassment and discrimination by the department's only female assistant fire chief.

    Channel 9's Shannon Butler was the first to report on a federal investigation into the chief in February and 24 hours later he resigned.

    For the last seven months, the city has been on a national search for a new chief.

    The resignation of Williams and the controversy surrounding it had the city staff realizing they had to make some changes not only at the top, but in the entire department.

    The city has vowed to diversify the fire department after Dawn Sumter said she was harassed, retaliated and discriminated against.

    The assistant chief and at least seven other women claimed there was a culture at the department that included not hiring enough females.

    The city began looking at starting a task force and the hunt began for a new chief that everyone hoped would bring change. 

    A consulting group has picked a list of the candidates, they include: Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale from Prince Georges County Maryland; John Caulfield the Chief of Ft. Myers Fire; Joe Dixon from the Goldsboro, North Carolina, Fire Department; Gerard Washington, assistant fire chief in Milwaukee; and Nobel John Taylor, a deputy chief in Volusia County.

    However, the city did not include a woman on the list.

    Sumter did apply for the job and it's unclear why she didn't get an interview.

    These candidates all have experience as leaders in agencies the size of Orlando.

    Now, staff will interview these five and bring the top candidates to the mayor for a sit-down.

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