FDNY brass denying chiefs’ requests for demotion as turmoil spreads: sources

FDNY brass is nixing requests for demotions from some veteran chiefs who asked to be knocked down in rank following Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh’s controversial shake-up in the department, sources told The Post on Sunday.

More than a half-dozen assistant and deputy assistant chiefs asked to be returned to field posts in solidarity with three top FDNY officials who were abruptly demoted by Kavanagh last month.

Sources said Kavanaugh is now pushing for a 90-day “cooling off” period in which she is no longer accepting requests for demotions.

Kavanagh and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks are finding it difficult to fill the top ranks as Big Apple firefighters are balking at taking the assistant chiefs test, according to the sources.

FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Fred Schaaf.
FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Ferd Schaaf was one of three top-ranking department chiefs unceremoniously demoted by Commissioner Laura Kavanagh on Feb. 3.
Dennis A. Clark

“The problem is nobody wants the job, so they can’t allow these chiefs to leave the current job,” one fire department source said. “They have a real problem — one they created.”

One FDNY veteran, Chief of Uniformed Personnel Michael Massucci, has been relegated to the department’s “tool room” after having his request to go down in rank denied pending the search for his replacement, sources familiar with the situation said.

FDNY reps did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala.
FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala was also demoted.

The turmoil in the ranks of New York’s Bravest was inflamed when Kavanaugh demoted three high-ranking chiefs on Feb. 3 — Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Joe Jardin, Assistant Chief of Operations Michael Gala, and Assistant Chief of Operations Fred Shchaaf.

The move backfired, with Kavanagh and Banks flooded by a slew of requests for voluntary demotions in solidarity, including from Chief of Department John Hodgens.

FDNY Assistant Chief Joseph Jardin.
FDNY Assistant Chief Joseph Jardin was demoted, resulting in major turmoil within the department.

According to the sources, eight chiefs who asked for demotions, six of them in writing, have been denied their request, including Massucci. He could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Last month, the three chiefs involuntarily demoted — Jardin, Gala and Schaaf, along with Massucci, — filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Supreme Court in an attempt to block the demotions, only to have a judge dismiss it.

In the midst of the spreading dissent Kavanagh last month appointed Joseph Pfeifer, a retired FDNY hero, to serve as her first deputy commissioner.