Laura Kavanagh to lead FDNY as Eric Adams decides on new commissioner

The FDNY’s top official will take over as the department’s acting commissioner while Mayor Adams considers who to pick as permanent boss.

First Deputy Commissioner Laura Kavanagh announced at a recent meeting of FDNY chiefs that she will lead the department on an interim basis when Commissioner Daniel Nigro retires on Wednesday, sources said.

Kavanagh, 39, a former senior aide to former mayor Bill de Blasio, joined the FDNY nearly eight years ago. She also previously worked as senior director for de Blasio’s mayoral campaign in 2013 and as deputy state director for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, according to her LinkedIn page.

Kavanagh, who sometimes replaced Nigro when he was out of town, is among the leading candidates for commissioner along with top FDNY attorney Terryl Brown, sources said.

If Kavanagh or Brown gets the job, they would go down in history as the first woman to lead the FDNY since its inception in 1865.

A spokesman for Mayor Eric Adams said he was conducting a thorough fire marshal search and had narrowed the list down to three candidates.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The lack of a permanent chief for the nation’s largest fire department creates uncertainty in tumultuous times.

The department is facing the firing of hundreds of firefighters and other emergency personnel who refused to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for Adams, insisted the mayor is “undertaking a thorough review of all candidates for the crucial position of fire marshal”.

Laura Kavanagh
Kavanagh was named No. 2 at the FDNY in October 2017.

“He has already conducted 20 rounds of interviews and narrowed his list down to three people,” he added. “As with all other appointments in the administration, Mayor Adams will choose the best person for the job.”

Nigro named Kavanagh its second-in-command in October 2017. The city credits her with leading a firefighter recruitment campaign to boost the hiring of minorities and women. She also created a fire safety program that distributed smoke alarms in at-risk neighborhoods.

Kavanagh, whose salary is $242,767, joined the FDNY as assistant commissioner for external affairs.

His tenure has included some controversy.

Laura Kavanagh
Kavanagh currently earns $242,767 in salary with the FDNY.
Paul Martinka for NY Post

In 2018, then-department chief James Leonard was ousted after Kavanagh’s repeated complaints to Nigro that Leonard was verbally abusive and “misogynistic”.

In 2019, she helped an FDNY lieutenant land an unadvertised $219,000-a-year job as a deputy commissioner in the Department of Information and Technology, then quickly transitioned to the FDNY on the same salary.

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