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Dany Cotton: Guard of honour for London’s first female fire chief who is retiring in wake of Grenfell criticism | UK News

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Firefighters have formed a guard of honour to mark the retirement of London’s first female fire chief.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) commissioner Dany Cotton spent her last day in office on Monday after 32 years of service.

Ms Cotton had been due to retire in April, but is stepping down earlier than expected in the wake of criticism over the Grenfell Tower fire.

Her last day saw firefighters line Union Street in central London as they gathered outside the LFB’s headquarters.

“Crikey,” the 50-year-old remarked, as she stood atop a fire engine to address the large crowd.

Ms Cotton added: “For me to walk out the doors and see and feel the love here, it’s truly made everything worthwhile.

“When things have been a bit difficult recently, the messages of support I’ve received and the emails and the messages on social media have just made everything okay.

“Being with all of you here today, it makes me so proud that the fire service is the best family – we look out for each other, we care for each other.

“The one thing I wanted when I became commissioner was to put people first.”

London Fire Brigade (LFB) Commissioner Dany Cotton
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Ms Cotton was greeted by a LFB dog amid the large crowd

Ms Cotton described being the LFB’s commissioner as “the most immense honour and privilege”, and hailed those who gathered to see her off as “the most amazing group of people”.

“People who care, people who show compassion, and people that I would walk into a burning building for,” she said.

Ms Cotton had faced pressure to resign from the bereaved families of the Grenfell Tower victims, as well as survivors of the 2017 tragedy, following a critical public inquiry report.

It found the LFB’s preparation for a tower block fire such as Grenfell was “gravely inadequate” and its lack of an evacuation plan was a “major omission”.

Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said more lives could have been saved at Grenfell had the policy of “stay-put” been abandoned sooner.

The report accused Ms Cotton of “remarkable insensitivity” after she said at the inquiry she would not have done anything differently on the night.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) Commissioner Dany Cotton
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She described her role as the ‘most immense honour and privilege’

The LFB said that following consultation with City Hall, it had been agreed that Ms Cotton would bring forward her retirement to the end of this year “to enable a timely handover” to the next commissioner.

She will be replaced by Andy Roe who takes up the position on 1 January and has served with the LFB since 2002.

Ms Cotton had previously resisted multiple calls for her to resign and welcomed the report’s recommendations, saying they would be “carefully and fully” considered by senior officers.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) Commissioner Dany Cotton
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The 50-year-old is retiring earlier than expected

A Facebook group called Save the UK Fire Service had called for firefighters from across the country to gather in or out of uniform to send Ms Cotton off with a “show of support” and to “express their respect” as part of a “non-political event”

It also suggested that crews who could not make it to London could parade outside their own fire stations.

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