Demoted FDNY chiefs file lawsuit to get their jobs back

FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh has made headlines recently for a controversial decision to demote three seasoned chiefs. Now, those chiefs are suing to get their jobs back.

"This case is about one thing," the suit begins. "The safety of the public and the valiant firefighters of the New York City Fire Department."

In an interview with FOX 5 NY, Kavanagh was clear that she would not comment on personnel matters or ongoing legal issues, but did say that any implication that the city is not safe is completely false.

Still, the chiefs filing the suit are claiming abuse of power and retaliation for standing up to a boss that they believe is unfit to serve. 

"We are putting together a new team ad that's always difficult, but it's what every commissioner before me has done," Kavanagh said. 

The lawsuit alleges a severe risk to public safety because the Department only has so many fire chiefs who can run command on the biggest fires. 

The four chiefs allege that the reassignments pull those men out of positions in which their decades of experience help save lives. They claim, if the demotions go into effect at the beginning of March, the impact will be "an unimaginable level of unpreparedness."

The FDNY has a hierarchical structure, unique only to its organization. It is unclear if Kavanagh is looking to redefine that structure or what truly caused the riff with top brass. 

Kavanagh is the city's first female commissioner, and while she has never been a firefighter, it is not uncommon for a civilian to help the department.