The Fire Commissioner, appointed by the Mayor of the City of New York, is the civilian administrator and head of the Department. The current Acting Fire Commissioner is Laura Kavanagh.
As Acting Fire Commissioner, Commissioner Kavanagh oversees the day-to-day administration of the agency’s 17,000 employees and $2 billion-dollar budget. Her role includes overseeing critical units such as fleet, facilities, 911 dispatch operations, technology, data analytics, and health services.
She has been a key leader in the agency’s response to major incidents including the Ebola outbreak of 2015 and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, as well as spearheading key policy initiatives for the department. Commissioner Kavanagh directed the firefighter recruitment campaign to yield the most diverse applicant pool in Department history, including graduating the largest and most diverse group of women in almost three decades. She also paved the way for technology innovation through the development of applications that provide situational awareness to frontline members; created a fire safety program that installed and distributed smoke alarms in the most at-risk neighborhoods; and advocates for first responders at the City, State and Federal level.
Before serving at the FDNY, Commissioner Kavanagh worked in New York City Hall as a Special Assistant to Mayor de Blasio. Prior to that, she worked in management and campaign consulting with non-profits, community-based organizations and unions to advance their organizational goals. In that time, she held senior roles on Presidential, Mayoral, Congressional and local campaigns.
Commissioner Kavanagh is an alumnus of the Executive Leaders Program at the Naval Post Graduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Summer Institute. She has a BA in Political Science and International Relations from Whittier College and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
An avid runner, Commissioner Kavanagh has completed two New York City Marathons and is a regular participant in the stair climbs that honor fallen first responders and their families.