London fire chief steps down after calls to be sacked

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The head of the London Fire Brigade has quit after Grenfell survivors called on the Mayor to sack her. Dany Cotton has today said she will leave the brigade at the end of the year – she had previously planned to retire next April.

But Sadiq Khan met with Grenfell survivors and families last month, when they asked for Ms Cotton to go.

The London fire chief was criticised during the first phase of the Grenfell inquiry for claiming she would have done nothing differently.

Ms Cotton told the investigation last September that she “wouldn’t change anything we did on the night”.

She said officers could not have known the fire would spread through the building’s cladding, comparing the unpredictable blaze to “a space shuttle landing on the shard”.

The devastating North Kensington fire on 14 June 2017 claimed the lives of 72 people. Residents were initially told to remain in the building, which is normal practice for tower block fires. But experts said more lives could have been saved if residents had been told to evacuate the building earlier.

Grenfell inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said evacuation should have been ordered between 1.30am and 1.50am, and blamed brigade chiefs for keeping “stay put” advice in place until 2.47am.

Ms Cotton said last month that the fire brigade’s response would now be “very different”.

She told the London Assembly that more fire fighters would be deployed immediately – but did not say if residents would be told to evacuate.

The London Fire Commissioner will now leave her post on 31 December, after 32 years service with the brigade. Fire survivors group Grenfell United said the change in leadership of the Brigade was “needed to keep Londoners safe”.