Thousands of firefighters line streets in tribute to London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton
23 December 2019, 16:20
Thousands of firefighters have lined the streets to pay tribute to London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton on her final day of service.
Crowds lined the street to form a "guard of honour" outside the brigade’s headquarters in Southwark, south London, on Monday afternoon.
Ms Cotton, the first female commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, was originally set to retire in April 2020 after 32 years of service.
But she announced her resignation on December 6 and is stepping down earlier than expected in the wake of criticism over the service's response to the Grenfell Tower fire.
She had been facing pressure to resign from bereaved families and survivors after the first report from the Grenfell inquiry found that 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 in the June 2017 fire had the policy of "stay-put" been abandoned sooner.
Addressing supporters in central London, Ms Cotton was met with bagpipes and applause as she hugged supporters.
She said: "Things have been a bit difficult recently but the messages of support I've received, the emails, the messages on social media, have just made everything OK.
"It makes me feel proud, the fire service looks after each other."
When asked what her legacy was in the role, she said: "For me, I think everything I've done is a legacy but especially recently mental health awareness.
"I think it's been a really difficult few months, I think times are challenging for people.
"I'm very, very sad to be leaving but I think the legacy of all these people here shows that I must have done something all right.
"People here have chosen to come out today, it's their choice and I think it's lovely that people have come together."
The report into phase one of the Grenfell Tower inquiry was released in October and focuses on what happened on the night of the tragedy and the actions of the LFB.
Phase two, which is expected to begin early next year, will examine the causes of the tragedy.
Ms Cotton will officially step down on New Year's Eve and will be replaced by Andy Roe who has served with the LFB since 2002.