New York Fire Department will be led by a woman for the first time in the agency’s 157-year history

The nation’s largest fire department has officially welcomed its first female commissioner.

Laura Kavanagh was sworn in Thursday morning as head of the New York Fire Department. She had served as the department’s acting commissioner since February.

Kavanagh, 40, was surrounded by other senior female officials from the mayor’s administration for what Mayor Eric Adams called a “historic appointment.”

Laura Kavanagh is sworn in as NYC’s first female FDNY commissioner on October 27, 2022.


“To say this is an honor of a lifetime is an understatement,” said Kavanagh, who will oversee the agency’s 17,000 staff, including firefighters, EMTs and paramedics, and a $2 billion budget. of dollars.

She acknowledged her place as the first female leader of the FDNY in its 157-year history.

“That’s the type of FDNY commissioner I’ll be — someone who knows I’ll only be successful if every person in my department and in our city sees my place at the table as their own,” she said. declared. “This moment, me being the first, only matters if I’m not the last.”

Adams said his administration had conducted a nationwide search for the next FDNY commissioner, but they kept coming back to Kavanagh.

“His style of leadership and engagement is just a reflection of what this city has to offer,” he said.

PHOTO: New York City Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, right, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, left, hold an NYFD badge after Kavanagh was sworn in during a ceremony at FDNY Engine 33/ Ladder 9, October 27, 2022 in New York.

New York City Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, right, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, left, hold an NYFD badge after Kavanagh was sworn in during a ceremony at FDNY Engine 33/Ladder 9 , on October 27, 2022 in New York.

Yuki Iwamura/AP

Kavanagh worked for the agency for nearly a decade, including as a senior deputy commissioner. She became acting fire commissioner after longtime commissioner Daniel Nigro retired without naming a successor.

Adams touted the work in the FDNY’s response to the 2015 Ebola outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic. She also oversaw a firefighter recruitment drive that saw the department’s most diverse candidate pool in its history, including graduating from the largest class of women in three decades, it said. he declares.

In March, 13 women were part of the promotion of trainee firefighters. In August, eight women were among the graduates, bringing the total number of female firefighters in the city to 141, the most in FDNY history, the city said. Amid efforts to diversify the department, a recent New York City Council report found that women are underrepresented, with less than 2% of firefighters being women.

Kavanagh’s nomination was met with the support of several firefighting and EMT defense organizations and unions, including the Uniformed Firefighters Association; uniformed EMS, paramedics, & Fire Inspectors, Local 2507; the Association of EMS Officers in Uniform, Local 3621; FDNY Vulcan; the National Association of Hispanic Firefighters; and the Association of United Women Firefighters.

“Women have bravely served in the FDNY since 1982. This nomination from Laura Kavanagh highlights the ability, dedication and service women show to the people of New York every day,” said Jackie-Michelle Martinez, president of the United Women Firefighters, in a statement. “As the number of female firefighters grows, there will be a continued interest in ensuring and creating a fair and friendly work environment.”

Kavanagh’s appointment follows in the footsteps of another historic first for the city. Earlier this year, Keechant Sewell became the first woman to serve as commissioner of the New York Police Department, the nation’s largest police department.

ABC News

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