FDNY reverses course on ‘hunt’ for firefighters who booed Letitia James, cheered Donald Trump

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Leaders of the New York City Fire Department have extinguished prospects for a “hunt” for rank-and-file members who jeered the Empire State’s Attorney General Letitia James when she took the stage at a ceremony last week.

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“At no point has there been an investigation into members booing,” an FDNY spokesperson told Fox News Wednesday, appearing to contradict reports of an internal email from brass that generated half a week of bad press for the department.

FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens handed down a fiery list of talking points last week, according to the New York Post, after some members booed James and chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” as she took the stage during a promotion ceremony at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn. 

The behavior was “unacceptable,” and members who appeared on video from the event would reportedly be investigated internally.

FDNY ‘LOOKING INTO’ STAFF WHO BOOED NY AG LETITIA JAMES, CHEERED FOR TRUMP AT CEREMONY

ny ag letitia james

New York Attorney General Letitia James tells the crowd to “simmer down.”  (FDNY)

“BITS is investigating this, so they will figure out who the members are,” Hodgens was said to have warned in an email to high-ranking FDNY officials Friday. “I recommend they come forward. I have been told by the Commissioner it will be better for them if they come forward, and we don’t have to hunt them down.”

BITS refers to the department’s Bureau of Investigation and Trials. Hodgens noted that there was “clear video” of the event and that BITS would contact people who declined to come forward.

WATCH: New York Attorney General Letitia James booed at FDNY ceremony

The purported persecution fired up current and former members of the department’s rank and file, as well as the public.

“I think they were making a mountain out of a mole hill,” said Staten Island attorney Louis Gelormino, who along with partner Mark Fonte, of F&G Legal Group, had offered to represent any firefighters under departmental investigation pro bono. 

“Let’s put this into perspective: It was a smattering of boos when Letitia James took the stage. It wasn’t a real outpouring. It was a smattering at best. And then it was about 15 or 20 seconds of Trump chants. That’s it.”

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Letitia James at FNDY ceremony

James spoke at the promotion ceremony, where 65 uniformed members from fire operations, EMS operations and the Bureau of Fire Investigation, along with 29 members from the Bureau of Fire Prevention and 34 civilian employees were sworn in to their new roles. (FDNY)

The FDNY has already downplayed reports it was hunting anyone to begin with. 

“Nobody is hunting anyone down,” FDNY spokesman Jim Long told Fox News Digital in an email Sunday. “We’re looking into those who clearly broke department regulations. It has nothing to do with politics. It’s about professionalism at an official event held in a house of worship.”

The department further softened its language Wednesday.

“FDNY leadership is having ongoing conversations with our members about decorum during department events to ensure we are upholding the core values that make the FDNY the greatest fire department in the world,” a spokesperson told Fox News. “Being a NYC firefighter is an honor, and we will continue to impress upon our members that their actions impact everyone who wears the uniform.”

Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh and Chief John Hodgens

Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh and Chief John Hodgens meet with William, Prince of Wales, at an FDNY firehouse Sept. 19, 2023, in New York City. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

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James also sought to lower the temperature Wednesday, telling Politico’s Playbook she did not believe anyone should be disciplined for the interruption. 

“The events of last Thursday will not diminish my respect for the brave men and women of FDNY,” she told the outlet. “I will be with them now, and I will be with them tomorrow.”

Gelormino, the attorney, said it’s a positive step by James and FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh for the latest developments but that he stands by his offer to defend FDNY members if the city changes course again.

FDNY Chief John Hodgens flanked by Mayor Eric Adams

FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens, flanked by NYC Mayor Eric Adams and other officials, describes firefighting efforts after a fire at 2 St. Nicholas Place Feb. 23, 2024, in Manhattan, N.Y.  (Barry Williams for NY Daily News via Getty Images)

FDNY TELLS FIREFIGHTERS TO PROTEST ‘ON YOUR OWN TIME’ AFTER BOOING NY AG LETITIA JAMES, CHEERING TRUMP: REPORT

“I think they will both look like the bigger people if they handle it that way,” he told Fox News Digital. “We’re prepared to fight if they’re not going to handle it that way. Or, hopefully, if that’s the case and the fire department can move on and everybody can move on and do what they intended to do, which is to protect the people of New York City, which the men and women of New York City Fire Department do incredibly well.”

Last year, FDNY Local 2507 advised members to immediately ask for a union representative if approached by a BITS officer, warning that investigators had been “baiting” members into confrontations that resulted in disciplinary measures.

New York Attorney General Letitia James looks on as former U.S. President Donald Trump attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial

New York Attorney General Letitia James looks on as former President Trump attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan Oct. 25, 2023.  (Dave Sanders/Pool via REUTERS )

And Kavanagh has also had a rocky tenure. She was never a firefighter before joining the FDNY as a civilian official in 2017. After becoming commissioner, she feuded with her own former top chiefs last year when they asked to be demoted in response to her policies, according to the Post

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen the dirty laundry get aired like this,” Gelormino said. “She needs to do a better job of connecting with the rank and file again. The fire department in New York City has never been questioned. They do an incredible job.”

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James’ office recently took former President Trump to a New York City civil court, resulting in a $350 million ruling against him last month. She also successfully sued former NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who was ordered to repay the organization $5 million in misspent funds.

James was invited to the event by the new FDNY chaplain, Pamela Holmes, who was honored at the ceremony and is friends with the attorney general.

If you have been approached by BITS about this incident and want to share your story, reach out to michael.ruiz@fox.com. You can remain anonymous.

Fox News Bryan Llenas contributed to this report. 

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