New York City’s Fire Department to be led by a woman for the first time in its history
Laura Kavanagh was promoted to the post of FDNY commissioner after assuming the role of acting commissioner of the department for the last eight months
October 28, 2022 5:34am
Updated: October 28, 2022 9:23am
New York City’s Fire Department will be led by a woman for the first time in the agency’s 157-year history, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Thursday during a news conference at a fire station in Manhattan.
Laura Kavanagh was promoted to the post of FDNY commissioner after assuming the role of acting commissioner of the department for the last eight months after the previous commissioner, Daniel A. Nigro, retired.
Mayor Adams said that Deputy Mayor Philip Banks III conducted a national search for suitable candidates for the position but ultimately decided that Kavanagh was best suited for the role.
“I kept coming back to her over and over again,” the mayor said. “Over and over again, I just kept coming back to her leadership.”
Kavanagh, 40, will oversee 17,000 FDNY employees, including firefighters, emergency medical workers, and 911 dispatch operations. She will also oversee a $2 billion annual budget.
Mayor Adams highlighted his commitment to promoting women. During the news conference, Kavanagh was joined onstage by several other top female officials, including First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, and Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch.
In addition to having its first woman commissioner, the FDNY has 141 female firefighters in its force as of August, the most in the department’s history.
“This moment – me being first – only matters if I am not the last,” said Kavanagh.
Kavanagh holds a master’s in public administration from Columbia University and worked as a senior advisor on former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign. She then served as special assistant to de Blasio. She joined FDNY in 4014 and was named first deputy commissioner four years later.