Thomas Von Essen serves as the Regional Administrator of FEMA Region II. Appointed October 2017, he leads and coordinates all aspects of federal emergency management for the states of New Jersey and New York, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Territory of the United States Virgin Islands and the Native American Tribal Nations in the Region.
Mr. Von Essen began his 31-year career with the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) as a firefighter and spent the last six years of his tenure as the FDNY Commissioner where he played an integral role in helping New York City respond to and recover from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Prior to serving as Commissioner, he was elected as the President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
He served in the U.S. Navy submarine service prior to joining the FDNY.
Mr. Von Essen’s private sector experience dates back to 2002 where he served as a fire and life safety consultant for many organizations, including Honeywell, Underwriters Laboratories and RJA Fire Protection Engineering. During his role as a consultant Mr. Von Essen advocated for the use of innovative technologies in the areas of mass notification and emergency communication.
He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors; in 2002 he was made an Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.
He is an adjunct professor in Fire Science at New Jersey City University and a strong proponent of planning in the field of crisis and emergency management. Mr. Von Essen graduated from St. Francis College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and received his master’s degree from Long Island University/C.W. Post campus.