Dany Cotton, London fire brigade´s first female fire commissioner. Photo by Mira Leionen
31 May 2018

CTIF Video Interview: Meet Dany Cotton - London Fire Brigade´s first female Fire Commissioner

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Dany Cotton
Danny Cotton is the first female fire commissioner of one of the largest and most prestigious fire brigades in the world.

Dany Cotton:

"I want to change the London fire halls into open community centers where everyone feels welcome"

 

During the iWomen Conference in Fairfax last week, Mira Leinonen, chair of the CTIF Commission for Women in Fire & Rescue, got a chance to meet and interview Dany Cotton, who in 2017 became London Fire Brigade´s first female Fire Commissioner. In this interview, Cotton talks about her first 18 months on the job, about taking charge of the Grenfell Tower firefighting operation only months into it, about her views on female firefighters and about ethnicity in the UK fire service.

 

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Video Interview by Mira Leinonen, chair of the CTIF Commission for Women in Fire & Rescue.

30 years into her service, Dany Cotton made history as the first female fire commissioner in London Fire Brigade´s 150 year history. Only months into the job, she found herself  leading  the most difficult and deadly high rise fire operation in UK history - the Grenfell Tower high rise fire.

Throughout her career, Dany has attended some London’s most significant incidents. Just three months into the job, she attended the Clapham Junction rail disaster where 33 people died and she has also led crews at Cutty Sark fire in 2007 and 40 fire engine blaze near the Olympic Stadium on the evening of London 2012 closing ceremony.

According to the London Fire Brigade, Dany has received a number of accolades including being named as Public Servant of the Year in 2002, becoming the first woman to be awarded the Queen’s Fire Service medal in January 2004 and winning the Most Influential Woman in Fire award in 2015. National Chair of Women in the Fire Service, Strategic Advisor to the Local Government Association and national Counter Terrorism (CT) lead.

As well as heading an emergency service that attends around 100,000 varied incidents each year, Dany is also in charge of the Brigade’s strive to prevent fires and injuries through its vital fire safety work. Educating children, visiting vulnerable people in their home and spreading fire safety messages on social media are just some of the ways Dany’s workforce try to keep people safe in the capital.

Since becoming Commissioner on 1 January 2017, Dany has led the Brigade through the Grenfell Tower fire and was at the scene monitoring the Brigade’s response to the tragedy. During that time the Brigade has also responded to three terrorist incidents and has had its work showcased on hit ITV documentary Inside London Fire Brigade.

In this 6 minute CTIF interview, Dany Cotton is interviewed during her visit to Fairfax, USA, during the iWomen conference last week. Her and Commission chair Mira Leionen got a chance to speak about some of the hot topics and challenges facing the UK Fire Service, the changing face of the terrorist threat, some of her operations regarding terrorism in her community, and about topics close to her heart, as well as highlights during her 30 year career  - and not the least, how she ended up the first female Commissioner of one of the largest, oldest and most prestigious fire brigades in the world. 

Expect more videos from the CTIF Commission for Women in Fire & Rescue at CTIF.org soon!

 

Dany Cotton, the first female Fire Commissioner in all the London Fire Brigade´s 150 year history, photographed at the iWomen conference in fairfax last week.  Photo by Mira Leionen
Dany Cotton, the first female Fire Commissioner in all the London Fire Brigade´s 150 year history, photographed at the iWomen conference in fairfax last week.  Photo by Mira Leionen

 

(Text below is from Wikipedia)

Dany Cotton, (born 11 June 1969) is a British firefighter. Since 2017, she has served as the Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade and is the first woman to hold this position. She had previously been the Director of Safety and Assurance at the London Fire Brigade.

In 2004 Cotton became the first woman to be awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal.She is the National Chair of Networking Women in the Fire Service.

Cotton was born 11 June 1969, in London. She was a member of the Air Training Corps as a teenager.

Cotton joined in 1988, her first placement was at Wimbledon Fire Station. Aged 19, she had been a full fire-fighter for just three months when she attended the Clapham Junction rail crash.

In 2007, she was assigned the post of Area Commander, becoming the highest-ranking woman in the British Fire Service. In 2010, she became Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade and in 2012 Assistant Commissioner.

In September 2016, Cotton was appointed interim Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade following the retirement of Ron Dobson.  She took up the position on 1 January 2017.  '

On 14 June 2017, Cotton was called out in the middle of the night to take charge of the London Fire Brigade's response to the massive Grenfell Tower fire which she described as "An unprecedented incident." She appeared at several media briefings to give updates on casualty figures, challenges faced and firefighters' progress.

In October 2017 she highlighted Fireman Sam in a campaign fighting sexism and promoting the gender-neutral term firefighter. She proposed that the children's character should be renamed Firefighter Sam.

Cotton said that research showed that women are put off a career in the fire service because it is seen as a job for men, and that as Fireman Sam is seen by children from an early age, the name reinforces this stereotype.

In 2002, Cotton was named Outstanding Public Servant of the year.

In the 2004 New Year Honours, Cotton became the first woman to be awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal, given "for distinguished service."

On 30 October 2008, she was awarded the Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

In 2010, she was named by The Independent as one of "100 women who changed the world". In 2014, she won the Public Service Category of the First Women Awards.