Mayor Adams Appoints Laura Kavanagh FDNY Commissioner

Mayor Adams appoints Laura Kavanagh as the new Commissioner of the FDNY. Image Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography office.

Kavanagh is the first woman to serve as Commissioner of the Fire Department. On October 27, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams swore in Laura Kavanagh as commissioner of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). With years of prior experience at the FDNY, most recently as acting fire commissioner, Kavanagh will oversee the department’s 17,000 employees and $2 billion budget.

Kavanagh earned a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Whittier College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia University. She is also an alum of the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Summer Institute and the Executive Leaders Program at the Naval Post Graduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

Before her time at the FDNY, Kavanagh served as a special assistant to Mayor de Blasio and held senior roles on presidential, mayoral, congressional, and local campaigns. Since arriving at the department, Kavanagh has been a key leader in responding to crises like the 2015 Ebola outbreak and the coronavirus pandemic. She has also spearheaded key policy initiatives, including directing the firefighter recruitment campaign that yielded the most diverse applicant pool in FDNY history. Under Kavanagh’s leadership, this campaign led to more women serving as firefighters than ever before. Additionally, Kavanagh created a fire safety program to install and distribute smoke alarms in at-risk neighborhoods, and advocates for first responders at all levels of government.

Kavanaugh has received support from U.S. Representatives Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries, and Ritchie Torres, NYS Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Jenifer Rajkumar, and Nily Rozic, and the Manhattan, Queens, and Bronx Borough Presidents. She has also been endorsed by several City Council Members, including Fire and Emergency Management Chair Joann Ariola, and multiple first responders’ unions.

Commissioner Kavanaugh remarked, “For nearly a decade, I have served, learned from and worked on behalf of the New York City Fire 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.”

Philip Banks III, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, stated, “Commissioner Kavanagh has the expertise needed to lead the FDNY and make this department the best it can be. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside the commissioner this year and look forward to continuing to do so to support our ‘Bravest’ and keeping our city safe.”

NYS Attorney General Letitia James added that this appointment “makes history and all New Yorkers proud by welcoming Commissioner Kavanagh as the first woman commissioner of the FDNY. I applaud Mayor Adams for choosing the best to lead our city forward, and I have every confidence that Commissioner Kavanagh will continue to protect all New Yorkers.”

Mayor Adams stated, “Laura Kavanagh is a proven and tested leader, and I’m proud to announce her historic appointment today. No matter her role, Commissioner Kavanagh has always been a leader — from helping to lead the FDNY’s response to the Ebola outbreak in 2015 to steering the ship during the COVID-19 pandemic, to directing a firefighter recruitment program that resulted in the most diverse applicant pool in the department’s history. 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.”

By: Cassidy Strong (Cassidy is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)

 Mayor Adams Appoints Laura Kavanagh as Fire Commissioner, October 27, 2022.


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