James Leonard, Laura Kavanagh

New York City Fire Department

FDNY Chief Of Department Removed From Post

December 06, 2018 - 2:56 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The FDNY’s highest ranking uniformed member has been removed from his post following allegations of inappropriate behavior.

Chief of Department James Leonard was relieved of his duties and placed on modified assignment while the city’s Law Department reviews the claims.

The department would not specify exactly what the alleged behavior may have been.

“While a review is conducted by the city’s Law Department concerning allegations of inappropriate behavior, Chief James Leonard has been relieved of his Chief of Department title effective today and placed on modified assignment,” said FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon.

Gribbon noted that Chief of Operations John Sudnik will be serving as Acting Chief of Department.

A report from the Daily News published Wednesday speculated the behavior, saying Leonard has been involved in an internal battle with First Deputy Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh.

Leonard reportedly would order staff to seat Kavanagh on the opposite side of the room from him at events. He also reportedly told other chiefs to freeze her out of internal communications.

The two come from strikingly different background with Leonard working for the FDNY since 1979 and Kavanagh being the only woman among the department’s leadership.

Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Kavanagh to her role despite never working for any fire department. It’s believed she was installed at the department to make it more diverse and accepting of people with different perspectives.