NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two women were sworn in to top positions with the FDNY Wednesday.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro named Laura Kavanagh first deputy commissioner and Elizabeth Cascio chief of staff.

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Nigro noted that there was a dearth of women in the FDNY when he started out in 1969.

“I was ‘fireman,’” Nigro said. “There were no ‘firefighters’ then. There were no women in the Fire Department.”

Of adding two women to his executive staff, Nigro said, “What a breath of fresh air that is.”

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Kavanagh started her career as a policy advocate. But she said when she first joined the FDNY, “I realized that to advocate for the men and the women who put their lives on the line for New Yorkers would be the honor and responsibility of a lifetime.”

Kavanagh served as deputy commissioner for government affairs and special projects for the FDNY from 2016 to 2018. She organized citywide programs such as the “Get Alarmed NYC” campaign to distribute smoke alarms, and oversaw the bureaus of technology and development services and communications, among others.

She previously served as special assistant to Mayor Bill de Blasio and senior advisor on his mayoral campaign.

Cascio has served as the first female executive officer to the fire commissioner since 2014, and was the first woman to hold such a role in department history. Before that, she served as an EMS lieutenant from 2005 to 2014.

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She began her career as an EMT for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Emergency Medical Service in 1984.