The People Behind Dallas County: Michael Barber

Michael Barber, Assistant Fire Marshal and Interim Director of the Department of Unincorporated Area Services (DUAS)

This story is part of the Dallas County Messenger’s series showcasing the people serving Dallas County. Michael Barber is an Assistant Fire Marshal in the Fire Marshal’s Office and Interim Director of the Department of Unincorporated Area Services (DUAS).

According to Dallas County Fire Marshal Robert De Los Santos, Michael Barber is a “phenomenal” addition to the Dallas County Fire Marshal’s Office. Michael first joined the department as a Deputy Fire Marshal just over four years ago. Since, he was promoted within the department to Assistant Fire Marshal and, most recently in July 2020, he was promoted to Interim Director of the Dallas County Department of Unincorporated Area Services (DUAS). Robert notes that Michael confronts and successfully navigates challenges at every turn. For example, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Robert says that Michael was “instrumental in helping the department complete COVID-19 related sizing and occupancy code-compliance inspections for the entire county.” Read the Dallas County Messenger’s conversation with Michael below. 

Explain your specific role at Dallas County. 

As the Assistant Fire Marshal, I have the responsibility of supporting our office’s operations and ensuring fire-code compliance for the safety of all county employees and citizens. Our office responds to reported fires and conducts cause-and-origin investigations to ensure the public remains safe and that safety standards are maintained related to consumer products. Our office coordinates at the national level with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other federal agency partners. The Fire Marshal’s Office ensures all county operated detention facilities are inspected twice each year for fire and life safety compliance as well as inspects all county-owned buildings.

“I think the foundation of my motivation stems from the fact that our office is small with a very limited staff. Because of this, we are a very specialized group and what we do every day makes an impact and produces great rewards.”

Michael Barber, Assistant Fire Marshal and Interim Director of the Department of Unincorporated Area Services (DUAS)

Why are you passionate about your department? Who or what at Dallas County motivates you to get out of bed each day? 

The Office of the Fire Marshal has a tremendous responsibility of ensuring fire and life safety compliance for the entire county employee staff as well as for the citizens of Dallas County. Helping others achieve and maintain life safety compliance is challenging, so it is essential that I have passion for my work. To serve in this role, one must maintain a dual role of compliance officer and educator, and from time-to-time, peace maker. 

I think the foundation of my motivation stems from the fact that our office is small with a very limited staff. Because of this, we are a very specialized group, and what we do every day makes an impact and produces great rewards. 

What would Dallas County constituents be pleasantly surprised to learn about your department or the services it provides? 

The Fire Marshal’s Office staff members are triple certified as peace officers, fire investigators and fire inspectors. As first responders, our team members are also on call 24/7. 

What do you look forward to accomplishing in the future? 

As the new chair of Dallas County’s Environmental Management System Committee, I’m looking forward to assisting with Dallas County’s continuous improvement initiatives.

What’s an example of a creative solution your department deployed to improve a Dallas County process or help a Dallas County constituent? 

In July 2019, the Fire Marshal’s Office adopted a paperless inspection process to reduce its paper footprint and support Dallas County’s green initiatives.

What is your favorite part of working for Dallas County?

Every day is different and presents new opportunities.

This conversation is edited for clarity.