New York City Mayor Eric Adams has appointed Laura Kavanagh as commissioner of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) on Thursday, making her the first woman to hold the role.
Kavanagh has served as acting commissioner since February, when her predecessor Daniel Nigro retired after serving in the role for about eight years. She served as first deputy commissioner before her appointment to the role in an acting capacity.
“New Yorkers and New York City’s ‘Bravest’ deserve an exceptional leader and Commissioner Kavanagh has the vision, the skills, and the compassion to lead the FDNY into the future,” Adams said in a release.
He said at a press conference that Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III conducted a nationwide search to file the role.
Adams pointed to Kavanagh’s experience leading the department’s response to the Ebola outbreak in 2015 and the COVID-19 pandemic as well as directing a firefighter recruitment program as examples of her abilities as a leader.
He said the recruitment program led to the most diverse applicant pool in the department’s history. The program also led to the highest number of women working in the department in its history.
The release states that Kavanagh created a fire safety program that distributed and installed smoke alarms in the most “at-risk” neighborhoods and has advocated for first responders.
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She previously worked at City Hall as a special assistant to former Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and in management and campaign consulting with nonprofits, community-based organizations and unions, according to the mayor’s office.
Kavanagh said she is “excited and grateful” for the opportunity to lead the department.
“I have seen the sacrifices our men and women make, the talent and training they possess, and the bravery they display saving lives and protecting our city. This is the greatest city in the world and the greatest fire department in the world. To serve both is the honor of a lifetime,” she said.