(AmericanProsperity.com) – The head of New York City’s fire department faced public humiliation on Tuesday after firefighters jeered her at a promotion ceremony. Last week, Commissioner Laura Kavanagh shook up the department’s leadership team. Now, she’s learning how unpopular that decision was.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 7, 2023
On February 3, New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Commissioner Kavanagh abruptly demoted three of her senior fire chiefs — Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Joe Jardin, Assistant Chief of Operations Michael Gala, and Assistant Chief of Operations Fred Schaaf. Insiders say she was fed up with them undermining their subordinates, but the demotions didn’t go down well.
Two more senior officers, Department Chief John Hodgens and Operations Chief John Esposito, immediately stepped down in protest. Allegedly, they were furious that, among other things, Kavanagh had excluded them from the decision to demote Jardin, Gala, and Schaaf.
A source inside the department said Kavanagh, appointed last October, had wanted to show the department who was boss — but “they’re fighting back… [and] now, the commissioner has a problem.” The department’s discontent bubbled to the surface on Tuesday when Kavanagh appeared at a promotion ceremony for several officers.
When she stood up to talk, just a handful of the assembled firefighters applauded her — and many booed. To make matters worse, Hodgens then stood up and saluted the jeering crowd — which immediately erupted with loud applause.
Talking to journalists on February 7, Jim McCarthy, president of the New York firefighters’ union, said the jeers for Kavanagh and cheers for Hodgens show where the department’s sympathies lie. Another high-ranking source said the three officers Kavanagh demoted hadn’t supported her campaign to become the FDNY’s first female commissioner, but added, “No one on the job supported her, from chief down to fireman.”
If Kavanagh is that unpopular inside the FDNY, she will likely struggle as commissioner. The rumor is that she’ll experience difficulties replacing Hodgens and Esposito, the two officers who made the day-to-day decisions about running the department. A source said firefighters are “a tight group,” and nobody will want to take their jobs — and, even if anyone does, “good luck getting people to work for them.”
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