Grenfell: London fire chief resigns

Dany Cotton faced increasing calls to quit following the first phase of the inquiry into the blaze

STEPPING DOWN: London fire commissioner Dany Cotton

THE LONDON fire commissioner has today announced she will be stepping down from her role at the end of the month.

Dany Cotton had intended to retire in April 2020 but has faced increasing calls to resign from Grenfell victim groups following the London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) response to the Grenfell Tower Fire.

Following discussions with City Hall, it was agreed that Cotton would exit the role earlier than originally planned.

News of Cotton’s imminent departure has been welcomed by Grenfell United, a group supporting survivors and those bereaved by the fire.

“This change is leadership is needed to keep Londoners safe. Sir Martin Moore-Bick raised serious concerns that the London Fire Brigade was an institution at rosk of not learning the lessons of Grenfell,” a statement from Grenfell United read.

It added: “The phase 1 report has important recommendations for the LFB. The incoming commissioner must move swiftly to implement those recommendations and be determined in their efforts to ensure the lessons of Grenfell are learnt.”

Cotton, who has worked in the fire service for 32 years and is the first female commissioner, will leave her role on December 31.

She faced considerable criticism when she told the inquiry that she would not have done anything differently in relation to the LFB’s conduct at Grenfell and had resisted calls to resign.

“I will never forget tragedies like the Clapham Junction rail disaster or the acts of terrorism that we have faced, but Grenfell Tower was without doubt the worst fire we had ever experienced. The Brigade has and will keep making the changes it can make and continue its fight for all of the other changes that are needed, to prevent such a terrible incident and loss of life from happening again,” Cotton said in a statement.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, expressed his support for Cotton’s decision.

He said: “I believe this decision is the right one. I will be appointing a new Fire Commissioner shortly and it’s right that they can quickly take on the responsibility to drive forward the changes being made within the Brigade, and to deliver on the recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry report.

In June 2017, 72 people died after a fire ripped through the Grenfell Tower block.

The first phase of the report into the fire found that the LFB’s preparedeness for the blaze was “gravely inadequate” and many lives could have been saved if brigade commanders had abandoned the “stay put” advice.

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