London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton is to step down earlier than expected in the wake of criticism over the service’s response to the Grenfell fire.
Ms Cotton, 50, who will leave her role at the end of this month, had been facing pressure to resign from bereaved families and survivors of the blaze following a critical public inquiry report.
The capital’s first female fire chief had been due to retire in April 2020 after 32 years of service.
The first report from the Grenfell inquiry found that the London Fire Brigade (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.
The LFB said that following consultation with City Hall it had been agreed that Ms Cotton will bring forward her retirement to the end of this year “to enable a timely handover” to the next commissioner.
Grenfell United, a group for bereaved families and survivors, welcomed Ms Cotton’s announcement.
In a statement, it 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.”
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.
Commenting on her early retirement, Ms Cotton said she was “proud” and “honoured” to have served London and to have stood “shoulder to shoulder” with fire service staff during her career.
She added: “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.”
Thanking Ms Cotton for her work to “inspire” people to join the fire service, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “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.”
The LFB said interviews for the role of Fire Commissioner would take place this month.