Daniel Nigro is the city's new fire commissioner after he was sworn in Monday by Mayor Bill de Blasio, but now comes the hard part: fixing long-standing issues dogging the department. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report. .
He rode a rig from the engine company he joined almost 45 years ago. A moment later, Daniel Nigro took the oath as New York's 33rd fire commissioner.
"If I had to give my term here a theme, it would simply be, 'It's time,'" Nigro said.
Time, he suggests, to confront controversies.
The city's problem-plagued 911 system is under review. Union contracts are unsettled. The overwhelmingly white New York City Fire Department is under court order to more closely mirror the city's racial makeup.
"We have taken steps to improve our diversity. We must and we will do better," Nigro said.
"Dan wants to make sure this is a department for everyone, that everyone is included in, that there's opportunity for all of them," says Mayor Bill de Blasio. "That's what he believes.
The department recently settled a long-running racial discrimination suit for $98 million. John Combs is president of the Vulcan Society, the organization that brought it.
"I'm optimistic those changes will take place, although it hasn't been the case in the past," Combs said.
The department is also under pressure to add more women to its ranks. As it stands now, there are 41 out of 10,400 firefighters and fire officers.
"New York City ranks the worst out of the gender disparity of all the major metropolitan cities in the country, and we're looking to change that," said Sarinya Srisakul of United Women Firefighters. "And from the speech today from both the mayor and from the commissioner, it looks like the time is nigh."
Time's preciousness is something the commissioner knows about. Black smoke scarred his lungs from the smoldering pile after the September 11th attacks.
"It's always in the back of your mind, and those people that are not here today with me but who are out on that plaque are always on my mind," Nigro said.
Nigro comes from a firefighting family. His dad joined the department in 1946, and the commissioner's daughters are both married to firefighters. No word yet on whether the commissioner's grandchildren will also join.