Laura Kavanagh sworn in as New York City's next FDNY fire commissioner

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Saturday, October 29, 2022
NYC swears in 1st female FDNY commissioner
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It was a powerful moment as Laura Kavanagh was sworn in as New York City's next - and first female - fire commissioner Thursday morning. Kemberly Richardson has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Laura Kavanagh was sworn in as New York City's next - and first female - fire commissioner Thursday morning.

Kavanaugh becomes the first woman to lead the FDNY in its 157-year history.

Mayor Eric Adams led the swearing in ceremony at Engine 33, Ladder 9 in Noho, a historic building where John J. Scannell, the city's first fire commissioner, had his office.

Dozens of top female officials in city government were on the podium for the emotional ceremony. Many appeared to be tearing up.

"The people of the FDNY have provided me with an enduring faith in something I was raised with and have long known to be true, where you build a community, you create a force multiplier that does extraordinary things," Kavanagh said.

Kavanagh has been serving as acting FDNY commissioner since February.

She's been at the helm of the nation's largest fire department since Daniel Nigro stepped down as commissioner without naming a successor.

Nigro appointed Kavanagh as his second-in-command in 2017.

The FDNY, the largest fire department in the country, has 17,000 employees and roughly 141 are female firefighters. Kavanagh played a key role in the diversity of the agency.

When Adams was asked about the 40-year-old being the first woman in the department's history to step into the role, he acknowledged it's an indictment on what's been happening. It's something he says he's committed to changing

"We were intentional, we said we are going to look for the best, but we're going to open our eyes because the best is among us, the best has just been ignored," Adams said.

Kavanagh chose to use her grandmother's bible during the ceremony and said she considered this the honor of a lifetime. It's a story about making the impossible possible.

"The FDNY has never met a mission they couldn't complete, lets get to work," she said.

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell was one of the dozens of women attending behind Laura Kavanagh at the ceremony -- and she later said she knows exactly how the new fire commissioner feels, because she has been there before.

"Commissioner Kavanagh and I have similar experiences, when we came into our jobs, we were met immediately by tragedy," Sewell said. "I have no doubt that she is going to lead that department with heart and with compassion. I know that she leads with my full support."

Local 2507, the union representing the FDNY's EMTS, paramedics and fire inspectors, issued a statement about Kavanagh's appointment saying, "We congratulate her. She's a great candidate. She's a champion who fought for EMS and will continue fighting for us."

And Uniformed EMS Officers Union Local 3621, another union representing EMS, said "We've supported her from the beginning, and we're looking forward to working with her ... She has been supportive, caring and demonstrates strong leadership abilities."

ALSO READ | Keechant Sewell named 1st woman to lead NYPD


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