The Chief of Department, appointed by the Fire Commissioner, is the highest-ranking uniformed position in the FDNY. The current Chief of Department is John J. Hodgens.
Chief Hodgens is a 36-year veteran who has most recently served as Chief of Fire Operations. 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. He succeeds former Chief of Department Thomas Richardson, who retired earlier this year after 40 years of service.
As Chief of Fire Operations, Chief Hodgens 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.
Chief Hodgens joined the Department in 1986, and his first assignment was at Ladder Company 11 in Manhattan. He worked there until his promotion to Lieutenant in 1998, when he was transferred to Battalion 41 in Brooklyn, and was later assigned to Ladder Company 157 in Flatbush. Five years later, he was promoted to Captain and worked in the 8th Division on Staten Island, later becoming the officer in charge of Ladder Company 87 in Eltingville. In 2006, he was promoted to Battalion Chief and assigned to Battalion 38, where he and Chief Richardson served together for five years. In 2012, he was promoted to Deputy Chief and served as the Division Commander of Division 8, responsible for fire companies assigned to Staten Island and Brooklyn.
He has been cited for bravery twice in his career, including the rescue of an unconscious occupant from a fire in a Lower East Side apartment building in 1992 as a Firefighter in Ladder Company 11. He was awarded the Emerald Society Medal for his heroic actions.
He studied at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Columbia Southern University, receiving a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Fire Science and Emergency Management. He also graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School – Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Executive Leadership Program (2021), the FDNY’s Advanced Leadership Course (2014) and the Officers Management Institute (2013).
Chief Hodgens’ father, John J. Hodgens Sr., also rose to the rank of Chief, and served as the Chief of Fire Prevention. He retired in 1997 as an Assistant Chief after 32 years of service.