The Chief of Department, appointed by the Fire Commissioner, is the highest-ranking uniformed position in the FDNY. The current Chief of Department is Thomas J. Richardson. Chief Richardson was appointed by Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro in 2021.
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.
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.