June 24, 2021
Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro today appointed Thomas J. Richardson as Chief of Department, the highest-ranking uniformed position in the FDNY, and John J. Hodgens as Chief of Fire Operations.
“Tom Richardson has served our city with valor for four decades. He’s battled fires, rescued New Yorkers from life-threatening emergencies, and served as Chief of Operations and Chief of Training during his distinguished career,” said Fire Commissioner Nigro. “John Hodgens has led by example at every level of our Department and has excelled at our lifesaving mission throughout his 35-year career. Together, their leadership will ensure the safety of the more than 8 million New Yorkers our Department is sworn to protect, and the members of the FDNY who bravely serve our city each day.”
“I am honored Commissioner Nigro has selected me to serve as the 37th Chief of Department,” said Chief Richardson. “During my career in the FDNY I have witnessed remarkable acts of sacrifice, compassion, heroism, and above all else, bravery, by the members of our great Department. The men and women who serve as FDNY Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics are the gold standard for all first responders. Our members are out there each and every day, focused on our mission of saving lives and protecting the citizens of this great city. I am truly honored and humbled to lead them as their Chief.”
“Each day, our Firefighters perform incredible acts of bravery – battling fires, providing emergency medical care, responding to dangerous incidents, and carrying out elaborate rescues,” said Chief Hodgens. “It is a tremendous honor to serve as Chief of Fire Operations, and I look forward to working closely with my fellow leaders in the Department to further advance our lifesaving mission.”
About Chief of Department Thomas J. Richardson
Chief Richardson is a 40-year veteran who has served as the Chief of Fire Operations since 2019. He will oversee the Department’s 16,000 uniformed Firefighters and EMS personnel and four major agency Bureaus: Fire Operations, EMS Operations, Training and Fire Prevention. Chief Richardson’s appointment is effective immediately. He succeeds former Chief of Department John Sudnik, who is moving to an administrative role within the Department after 35 years of service within the uniformed ranks.
As Chief of Fire Operations, Chief Richardson has overseen the day-to-day work of more than 11,000 Firefighters and fire officers, as well as dozens of high-ranking Staff Chiefs, Deputy Chiefs and Battalion Chiefs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief Richardson joined the FDNY in 1980. His first assignment was at Engine Company 227 in Brooklyn, and he later worked at Ladder Company 102 and Rescue Company 2, also in Brooklyn. In 1990, he was promoted to Lieutenant and worked in Battalion 16 in Harlem for a year before returning to Brooklyn when he was assigned to Engine Company 235 in Bedford Stuyvesant. He was promoted again in 1994 and served as the Captain of Engine Company 234 in Crown Heights and later of Squad Company 270 in Queens. In September of 2000, he was promoted to Battalion Chief.
He has been cited for bravery six times in his career, including for the rescue of a 15-year-old boy from a fire in Brooklyn on January 10, 1989. At that incident, Firefighter Richardson was lowered by his lifesaving rope from the roof of a three-story brownstone on Monroe Street and rescued the teenager who was trapped by a fire. He was awarded the Dr. Albert A. Cinelli Medal for his heroic actions.
Chief Richardson is a 2010 graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School – Center for Homeland Defense and Security, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies. He received his undergraduate degree at SUNY Empire State College. He has also attended both the FDNY’s Advanced Leadership Course (2015), the Fire Officers Management Institute (2009), and the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point in 2006.
About Chief of Operations John J. Hodgens
Chief Hodgens is a 35-year veteran who has most recently served as Assistant Chief of Fire Operations. As Chief of Fire Operations, Chief Hodgens will oversee the day-to-day work of more than 11,000 Firefighters, Fire Officers and Chiefs. He will also oversee the Department’s highly trained special units including Hazardous Materials, Marine Operations, Rescue Operations, and the Special Operations Command.
Chief Hodgens joined the Department in 1986, and his first assignment was at Ladder Company 11 in Manhattan. He worked there until his promotion to Lieutenant in 1998, when he was transferred to Battalion 41 in Brooklyn, and was later assigned to Ladder Company 157 in Flatbush. Five years later, he was promoted to Captain and worked in the 8th Division on Staten Island, later becoming the officer in charge of Ladder Company 87 in Eltingville. In 2006, he was promoted to Battalion Chief and assigned to Battalion 38, where he and Chief Richardson served together for five years. In 2012, he was promoted to Deputy Chief and served as the Division Commander of Division 8, responsible for fire companies assigned to Staten Island and Brooklyn.
He has been cited for bravery twice in his career, including the rescue of an unconscious occupant from a fire in a Lower East Side apartment building in 1992 as a Firefighter in Ladder Company 11. He was awarded the Emerald Society Medal for his heroic actions.
He studied at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Columbia Southern University, receiving Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Fire Science and Emergency Management. He also graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School – Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Executive Leadership Program (2021), the FDNY’s Advanced Leadership Course (2014) and the Officers Management Institute (2013).
Chief Hodgens’ father, John J. Hodgens Sr., also rose to the rank of Chief, and served as the Chief of Fire Prevention. He retired in 1997 as an Assistant Chief after 32 years of service.