Barksdale has been in the fire service for more than 35 years and said it’s time for him to slow down.
“This is a relay, as I explained it,” Barksdale said. “I’m handing off the baton to Chief Deputy Green.”
Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) said Barksdale has been a visible fixture in the community since he came to the department from Arlington almost nine years ago, often out and about on nights and weekends at churches and county events to talk about fire safety and prevention.
“He made it his business to educate our citizens, and he did it with a passion and compassion that is so uncommon,” Alsobrooks said. “He came here with a strong reputation, and he is leaving with a very strong reputation.”
Barksdale, 54, started his tenure as chief in 2017. Before that, he was a deputy chief, coming to Prince George’s County in 2011 after retiring from the Arlington County fire department.
Barksdale worked in Arlington for 24 years, serving as a battalion chief after a plane crashed into the Pentagon during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“It’s a childhood dream what I’m doing,” Barksdale said during an interview when he became chief. Barksdale remembered being enamored with firetrucks growing up near a fire station in rural West Virginia and signed up as a volunteer when he was 16.
Barksdale was a key figure in helping the county get new breathing equipment for firefighters and new engines in recent years.
He also led the department when it lost one of its own. When the chief at the time was out of town, Barksdale stepped up “in a strong way” as the second-in-command after a firefighter was shot during a call by a homeowner who mistook emergency responders for intruders.
Green, 44, will serve as interim chief when Barksdale leaves Oct. 31.
If confirmed by the Prince George’s County Council, she would become the department’s 13th fire chief. Green is expected to take over one of the busiest departments in the nation, with roughly 900 career firefighters and 1,000 volunteers.
“What I am most excited about is Chief Deputy Green is here this morning not because she is a female and not because she is a Prince Georgian but because she is qualified,” Alsobrooks said. “She is best qualified at this point to lead this department.”
Alsobrooks had elevated Green to the second-highest position within the fire department in November, making her the “highest ranking female fire official in the history” of the department, according to a biography on the county’s website.
Green acknowledges that women often face challenges in the predominantly male profession, but she said her mission is to be a “trailblazer,” “regardless of the challenge.”
“When you’re in the gear, and you’re out saving lives, you can’t tell if you’re a man or a woman,” Green said.
Green had served as an Oxon Hill fire department volunteer before starting her career in the department in March 1999, according to the county. With bachelor’s degrees in public safety and biology, and a master’s in emergency and disaster management, Green rose through the ranks, previously serving as a firefighter, paramedic, station commander and deputy fire chief, among several other roles. She previously oversaw the training and leadership academy and managed the high school cadet program.
“One of the benefits is that I’ve come up through this department,” Green said. “I’ve come up through the ranks. My experience, my integrity speaks for itself.
“I believe I can lead this department.”