London’s fire commissioner Dany Cotton is to step down from her role sooner than planned, the London Fire Brigade announced today.
Cotton will leave at the end of December as opposed to her original departure date of the end of April.
It comes after criticism of Cotton from the families of victims who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.
An official inquiry into the tragedy accused Cotton of “remarkable insensitivity” after she said she would not have changed anything on the night of the fire.
The review called the London Fire Brigade’s preparation for such a blaze “gravely inadequate”. It also blasted the brigade’s lack of an evacuation plan as a “major omission” and said “many more lives” could have been saved if the LFB had ditched advice to residents to stay in the block sooner.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said stepping sooner than planned was the “right decision” and thanked Cotton for 32 years of service.
During her career Cotton had attended the Clapham Junction rail disaster, where 33 people died.
She also led crews to tackle a blaze that gutted the Cutty Sark in 2007.
“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,” Cotton said today.
“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.”
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan praised Ms Cotton for more than three decades with the fire brigade but added that her decision to go was “the right one”.
Survivors have called for prosecutions of London Fire Brigade staff, saying victims’ lives were “in the hands of people that are incapable of [doing] their jobs”.
Khan added: “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.”