The head of the London Fire Brigade says she will not resign despite criticism of how it responded to the Grenfell disaster.
Dany Cotton told Sky News that “it’s important for me to continue to protect the people of London”.
A report on phase one of the inquiry into the disaster was critical of the LFB, particularly over its “stay put” strategy which meant residents were told to remain in their flats by firefighters and 999 operators for nearly two hours after the June 2017 blaze started just before 1am.
The report concluded fewer people would have died if residents had been evacuated while it was still possible – within an hour of the blaze starting – and if “serious shortcomings” had not plagued the fire service’s response.
She said it was “very difficult to reach that conclusion without understanding fully how the building performed on that night”.
Ms Cotton pointed out that over the last five years, there have been more than 5,000 high-rise fires in London and for virtually all of them “stay put” has been the “right policy and has protected the people in those buildings”.
However with Grenfell she admitted she would do things differently now, knowing about the tower block’s “highly flammable cladding and all the fire safety breaches”, adding “we’ve got different steps in places”.
The fire was started by an electrical fault in a large fridge-freezer in the kitchen of flat 16, for which the resident bears no blame, according to the report.
It said the “principal reason” the flames shot up, down and around the building so quickly was the combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with polyethylene cores which acted as a “source of fuel”.
And there was “compelling evidence” that the tower block’s external walls did not comply with regulations.
The report accused Ms Cotton of “remarkable insensitivity” after she said at the inquiry she would not have done anything differently on the night.
Speaking to Sky News, the fire chief said: “Clearly knowing what we know now about the building and about ACM cladding we would do things differently.
“But the one thing that I want to make clear is if I caused any additional hurt or upset to the people of Grenfell that was never my intention.”
She added of her comments: “I regret they caused offence.”
Ms Cotton, 50, is due to retire, reportedly with a £2m pension pot.
She was asked by Sky correspondent Alex Rossi: “Some of the survivors can’t understand why you are retiring – why haven’t you resigned?”
She replied: “I can understand that the people of Grenfell are hurting and want someone to be accountable.
“What has been important for me is that we are putting steps in place to change things, we are learning, he have identified our own areas that we have been concerned about way before the inquiry.
“It’s important for me that I continue to protect the people of London by putting those steps in place and developing London Fire Brigade. And by resigning now that would not happen.”
The head of the London Fire Brigade Dany Cotton says she will not resign despite criticism of how it responded to the Grenfell disaster. She told Sky News that “it’s important for me to continue to protect the people of London”. More follows…