In Lawsuit, FDNY Chiefs Demand Reinstatement of Incident Commanders to Protect Public Safety

Walden Macht & Haran LLP

In Lawsuit, FDNY Chiefs Demand Reinstatement of Incident Commanders to Protect Public Safety

New York, NY, February 27, 2023 — Today, in the interests of public safety, four Staff Chiefs of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) filed a lawsuit demanding immediate reinstatement of eleven Staff Chiefs, who serve as Incident Commanders for multi-alarm fires across the City of New York.

This legal action follows a retaliatory pattern by FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh to reassign and demote — actually or constructively — these Chiefs after ignoring their advice on critical safety issues. When the Commissioner’s ill-conceived demotions go into effect (on March 4 and March 6), there will be no Staff Chiefs with experience as Incident Commanders for responding to 5-alarm fires, and only a few with 4-alarm incident-command experience.  Swift judicial action is required to protect the public safety by restoring the department’s qualified firefighting experts to their essential roles until the Court hears the merits of the suit.

The lawsuit, a hybrid Article 78 petition and complaint, was filed in the Kings County Supreme Court of New York in Brooklyn. It includes an affidavit from one of the most experienced fire-fighting professionals in the country and seeks to reverse and annul the Commissioner’s recent retaliatory decisions.

The Petitioners in the lawsuit are: FDNY Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Joe Jardin, FDNY Assistant Chief of Operations Michael Gala, FDNY Assistant Chief of Operations Fred Schaaf and FDNY Chief of Uniformed Personnel Michael Massucci.

The lawyers from Walden Macht & Haran are: Jim WaldenGeorgia WinstonAdam CohenMarc ArmasStephen GardinerAlexander KahnKristen LasakPhilip Patterson and Ivy Yao.

Jim Walden of Walden Macht & Haran, counsel for the Staff Chiefs, issues the following statement: “Our clients are some of New York City’s most decorated FDNY Chiefs, who have devoted their lives to the service of public safety.  They are the incident commanders who mobilize firefighters into action during large fires that threaten entire neighborhoods. These are some of the same firefighters who put their own lives at risk on September 11 and on countless other occasions to uphold their oath to protect New Yorkers from lethal fires. To remove these experienced officials from their essential safety functions puts lives at risk and is simply a gross misjudgment and dereliction of duty by the Commissioner. We are hopeful that the Court will recognize the urgent public safety interest in this legal action by a united and dedicated group of the City’s public servants, and that their roles will be restored swiftly.”

Media Contact: Julia Pacetti, Verdant Communications,

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