London fire commissioner Dany Cotton has announced she will be stepping down from her position at London Fire Brigade (LFB) on December 31, earlier than her expected retirement in April next year.
A statement from the LFB said her early departure was agreed after discussions with City Hall, as the fire service looks to act on the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry report.
The first report from the Grenfell inquiry found the LFB’s preparation for a huge tower block fire was “gravely inadequate” and its lack of an evacuation plan was a “major omission”.
In a statement, the LFB said – following consultation with City Hall – it had been agreed Cotton would retire at the end of this year “to enable a timely handover” to the next commissioner.
Cotton said: “When I joined the London Fire Brigade, I joined a service dedicated to helping people and protecting our capital city. Throughout my 32 years of service I am proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with the firefighters, control staff, officers and fire and rescue staff who have maintained that dedication and professionalism.
“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.
“I feel honoured to have served London and I will do all I can to assist the safe transition of my responsibilities to the new London fire commissioner when they are appointed.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan thanked Cotton for her service, adding: “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.”
Grenfell United, a group for bereaved families and survivors, welcomed Cotton’s announcement.
A statement said: “This change in leadership is needed to keep Londoners safe. Sir Martin Moore-Bick raised serious concerns that the London Fire Brigade was an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of Grenfell.
“The phase one report has important recommendations for the LFB. The incoming commissioner must ensure that they move swiftly to ensure those recommendations are implemented.
“The LFB leadership must be determined in their efforts to ensure the lessons of Grenfell are learnt.”