Fire Chief


Robert L. Pursley, Jr., Ph.D. was sworn in as the Barberton Fire Chief in April 2020.  He began his more than 32-year career in a small combination fire department as a part-time firefighter/paramedic and was hired full-time by the Barberton Fire Department in 1992. He rose consistently through the ranks with a promotion to Lieutenant in 1998 and Captain/Shift Commander in 2013.

Chief Pursley has also served the department as the chairperson of the department’s Safety Committee, a Worker’s Compensation representative, grant writer, and Vice President of Barberton Firefighter’s Association, IAFF Local 329.  He was also a member of the Summit County Technical Rescue Operations Team for more than 22 years; and from 2002-2015, a member of Ohio Task Force 1 (OHTF-1). While serving on one of the federal Urban Search and Rescue Teams in the United States, he held several positions including Rescue Specialist, Rescue Squad Officer, and Technical Information Specialist. 


  • Ph.D. Public Policy and Administration - Walden University
  • Master of Public Administration - Walden University
  • Bachelor of Science, Fire & Safety Engineering Technology - University of Cincinnati
  • Associate of Applied Science, Fire Science - Stark State College of Technology


  • National Fire Academy: Executive Fire Officer
  • State of Ohio: Fire Instructor, Firefighter II, Paramedic
  • Fire Officer I & II, III & IV
  • Barberton Community Leadership Institute, Class 3 Graduate


  • City of Barberton Employee of the Year, 2015
  • City of Barberton Recognition Commendation, 2015
  • Barberton Fire Department Letter of Commendation, 2015
  • Kiwanis Outstanding Service Award, September 2004
  • Rotary Club of Barberton Service Above Self Award, May 2001
  • Akron Children’s Hospital Squad of the Year Award, May 2001
  • State of Ohio Letter of Commendation, August 2001
  • Barberton Fire Department Letter of Commendation, May 2001
  • City of Barberton Formal Recognition of Service Award, 1999


  • BACM Food Pantry Executive Board (Vice President)
  • Magic City Kiwanis
  • New Horizon Federal Credit Union Board of Directors-2011-2020 
  • Ohio Fire Chief’s Association Scholarship Committee- 2017-2019
  • Four Cities Educational Compact Advisory Board- 2013-2016
  • Summit County Special Operations Response Team Executive Board-2013-2016
  • Chapter of the American Red Cross Advisory Board- 2010-2012
  • Lake Anna YMCA Advisory Board- 2008-2010