Dany Cotton

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Dany Cotton

Commissioner of London Fire Brigade
Assumed office
1 January 2017
Preceded byRon Dobson
Personal details
Born (1969-06-11) 11 June 1969 (age 50)
London, United Kingdom

Danielle Amara Cotton, QFSM (born 11 June 1969)[1] 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.[2] She had previously been the Director of Safety and Assurance at the London Fire Brigade.[3]

In 2004 Cotton became the first woman to be awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal.[4] She is the Patron of Women in the Fire Service.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Cotton (known as Dany), was born on 11 June 1969, in London.[6][7][8] She was a member of the Air Training Corps as a teenager.[9]


Cotton joined London Fire Brigade in 1988, and her first placement was at Wimbledon Fire Station.[4] Aged 19, she had been a full firefighter for just three months when she attended the Clapham Junction rail crash.[7] In 2007, she was assigned the post of Area Commander, becoming the highest-ranking woman in the British Fire Service,[4] and in 2012 was made Assistant Chief Officer.[3]

In September 2016, Cotton was appointed interim Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade following the retirement of Ron Dobson.[9][10] She took up the position on 1 January 2017.[10] Cotton initially held the title of Interim Commissioner until a restructure of the Brigade later in 2017, at which point she became full Commissioner.[11] Commenting on the appointment of Dany Cotton as London Fire Commissioner, Young Women's Trust Chief Executive Dr Carole Easton said: “It’s great to see a woman appointed to the top job in the London Fire Brigade. It is so important that young women who are considering which career path to choose have role models in all workplaces to inspire them. The fire service has typically been dominated by men. Hopefully this appointment will encourage more young women into the London Fire Brigade.”[12]

On 14 June 2017, Cotton was called out in the middle of the night[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] 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.

On 20 June 2019, she announced she would retire in April 2020 after serving 32 years (2 years longer than a normal firefighter's service) from the London Fire Brigade.[16]

In October 2019 the retired high court judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who led the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, was critical of Cotton's "remarkable insensitivity" for stating in her evidence that she wouldn't change anything the London Fire Brigade did on the night of the Grenfell fire. His report demonstrated “the LFB is an institution at risk of not learning the lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire”. Survivors and bereaved welcomed Moore-Bick's comments in the first of his two reports.[17] On Sunday 3 November 2019, The Sunday Times reported that Dany Cotton rejected the findings of the Moore-Bick inquiry into the Grenfell fire, calling them a 'stitch up'. The paper reported that her comments had angered survivors.

Honours and awards[edit]

In 2002, Cotton was named Outstanding Public Servant of the year.[4] In the 2004 New Year Honours, Cotton became the first woman to be awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal, given "for distinguished service."[18][4] On 30 October 2008, she was awarded the Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.[19]

In 2010, she was named by The Independent as one of "100 women who changed the world".[7] In 2014, she won the Public Service Category of the First Women Awards.[20]

Queens Fire Service Medal UK.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Fire LS & GC Medal ribbon.png

Ribbon Description Notes
Queens Fire Service Medal UK.png Queen's Fire Service Medal (QFSM)
  • 2004
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 2002
  • UK Version of this Medal
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012
  • UK Version of this Medal
Fire LS & GC Medal ribbon.png Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal October 2008

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NETWORKING WOMEN IN THE FIRE SERVICE, Filing History Directors details changed, PDF". Companies House. 5 May 2010. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Interim Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton takes charge". www.london-fire.gov.uk. London Fire Brigade. 22 December 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b Conner, Rachel (16 February 2012). "Orpington fighfighter top ranked woman in London Fire Brigade". News Shopper. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Top woman for a top firefighting job". www.london-fire.gov.uk. London Fire Brigade. 5 March 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Honorary Officers – Women in the Fire Service". wfs.org.uk. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  6. ^ McVeigh, Tracy (4 March 2017). "'Hairy-arsed' macho image has to go, says London Fire Brigade's first female boss". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "A century of distinction: 100 women who changed the world". The Independent. 7 March 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Networking Women In The Fire Service – Company & Directors Information (UK)". site2corp.co.uk. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Dany Cotton, Commissioner". London Fire Brigade. Greater London Authrority. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Interim Fire Commissioner appointed". www.london-fire.gov.uk. London Fire Brigade. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Dany Cotton: The Unsung Hero Fighting Fire With Feminism – Felix Magazine". Felix Magazine. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  12. ^ https://www.youngwomenstrust.org/what_we_do/media_centre/press_releases/514_dany_cotton_becomes_first_woman_fire_commissioner?gclid=Cj0KCQiA2ITuBRDkARIsAMK9Q7MCnCPomYyaTy6U8VtHZQqz81m13Lck61pCLAvBDRj56PIyy0iXhSoaAs17EALw_wcB
  13. ^ Doward, Jamie (17 June 2017). "London fire brigade boss: 'It was a massive risk, but it's our job to go in'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 17 June 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  14. ^ Withnall, Adam (14 June 2017). "London Fire: Structural engineer is monitoring Grenfell Tower's stability after devastating blaze". Independent. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Why We Are Campaigning To Shake Off The Outdated Term 'Firemen'". HuffPost UK.
  16. ^ "London fire chief during Grenfell blaze to take retirement". HuffPost UK.
  17. ^ Booth, Robert (28 October 2019). "Grenfell inquiry finds fire brigade 'gravely' ill-prepared for blaze". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  18. ^ "No. 57155". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2003. p. 27.
  19. ^ "Top woman fire officer gets award for service to Londoners". London Fire Brigade. 30 October 2008. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  20. ^ "Senior fire officer hopes award will inspire other women". www.london-fire.gov.uk. London Fire Brigade. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2017.

External links[edit]

Official website

Fire appointments
Preceded by
Ron Dobson
Commissioner of London Fire Brigade