Fire Commissioner Appoints New First Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Staff

January 31, 2018

Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro appointed First Deputy Commissioner Laura Kavanagh and Chief of Staff Elizabeth Cascio on Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 at FDNY Headquarters Auditorium at 9 Metro Tech Center, Brooklyn.

“Through their years of experience working closely in my administration, Laura and Liz have demonstrated an outstanding range of skills and leadership, and have shown they are exactly the people I need to continue to improve the FDNY,” said Commissioner Nigro. “They are both deeply committed to New Yorkers, and to the life-saving mission of our Department, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in their new roles.” 

"It is an honor to advocate for the greatest Fire Department in the world," said Commissioner Kavanagh. "Which to me means making the right decision, even when it is not the easy decision, for the Firefighters, EMTs, Paramedics, and Fire Inspectors who count on us to make those decisions – even when those decisions are difficult."

“Today, nearly 24 years since our introduction, we enter this next phase of our careers with Commissioner Nigro promoting me to his Chief of Staff," said Chief of Staff Cascio. "I never could have imagined as a 19-year-old girl volunteering as an EMT in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, that one day I would be in this position helping run the busiest and best emergency medical service in the world."

About First Deputy Commissioner Laura Kavanagh
First Deputy Commissioner Kavanagh reports directly to Fire Commissioner Nigro. Prior to this role, Commissioner Kavanagh served as Deputy Commissioner for Government Affairs and Special Projects from 2016 to 2018 - where she built strong relationships with other government agencies and elected officials to secure necessary funding for the Department; worked to pass important legislation protecting first responders; and organized citywide programming such as the highly successful “Get Alarmed NYC” campaign, which has, to date, installed and distributed more than 140,000 smoke alarms in homes throughout the city. In her role as Deputy Commissioner, she oversaw the Bureau of Technology and Development Services (BTDS); the Bureau of Communications (BOC) for fire and EMS dispatch operations; Intergovernmental Affairs; Community Affairs; Recruitment; and the Family Assistance Unit, which aids the families of FDNY members who have died in the line of duty or from World Trade Center illnesses.  In addition to overseeing the recent firefighter recruitment campaign – which resulted in the largest and most diverse applicant pool in Department history – she has secured funding for renovations to firehouses and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) stations across the five boroughs; overseen the implementation of Fire and EMS call taking operations at the City's newly constructed state-of-the-art emergency call taking center in the Bronx and the planning and implementation of technology upgrades at the current emergency call taking center in Brooklyn; the development of an in-house customized computer aided dispatch system; and the development of mobile applications that support Fire and EMS operations. Previously, she served as Assistant Commissioner for External Affairs from 2014 to 2016.

Before joining FDNY, Commissioner Kavanagh served as a special assistant to Mayor Bill de Blasio after acting as Senior Advisor on his Mayoral campaign. Previously, she worked in management and campaign consulting with non-profits, community-based organizations and unions to advance their organizational goals. Commissioner Kavanagh is a graduate of Whittier College, with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations.

About Chief of Staff Elizabeth Cascio
Chief of Staff Elizabeth Cascio reports directly to Fire Commissioner Nigro and is responsible for providing strategic guidance and management for special projects and initiatives. Since 2014, Chief of Staff Cascio has served as the first female executive officer to the Fire Commissioner in the Department’s history. Before that appointment, she served as Lieutenant in the Bureau of EMS from 2005 to 2014 supervising Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics and responding to medical emergencies. She monitored basic and advanced life support protocol compliance and patient care in the Office of Medical Affairs from 2002 to 2005. From 1994 to 2002, as the FDNY and New York City’s Emergency Medical Service merged, then Lieutenant Cascio helped develop and implement a first-responder training curriculum to educate Firefighters on response to medical emergencies. Formerly, she served as program coordinator for EMS Cadet Program from 1991 to 1994 and an EMS dispatcher from 1985 to 1986. Chief of Staff Cascio began her career as an EMT for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Emergency Medical Service in 1984 after working as a volunteer EMT for BRAVO Volunteer Service for five years.

Captain Cascio is a certified FEMA Emergency Management Master Exercise Practitioner and has developed tabletop and full scale exercises with the FDNY Exercise Design Team, as well as the New York City Office of Emergency Management. She has also served on the Regional Emergency Medical Service Council of New York City BLS subcommittee and has co-authored BLS Treatment Protocols.

For photos of the promotion ceremony, click here.