Cotton Goes – Savage Fire Cuts In Surrey

FBU members with their banner determined that a fire like Grenfell must never happen again – whilst fire service cuts continue

LONDON Fire Brigade Chief Dany Cotton is to leave the service four months early.

Cotton, 50, previously announced she was standing down from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) in April 2020.

She was facing calls to resign after a public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire which killed 72 people in June 2017.

Grenfell United said the change in leadership would ‘keep Londoners safe’.

The statement on behalf of survivors and bereaved families of the fire, added: ‘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 LFB leadership must be determined in their efforts to ensure the lessons of Grenfell are learnt.’

Cotton, who will leave her role at the end of December, said Grenfell Tower was ‘without doubt the worst fire’ that LFB had ever faced.

Meanwhile, massive fire service cuts are continuing.

Firefighters in Surrey on Tuesday 26th November balloted on industrial action to commence on 24 December, after exhausting all other avenues to prevent dangerous cuts to their fire and rescue service.

The cuts, which include removing seven fire engines at night-time and cutting 70 firefighter posts, were approved by Surrey County Council at a cabinet meeting on 24 September. 68% of respondents to the official consultation opposed cuts to fire cover, with just 18% approving.

Over 13,000 people signed a petition calling on the council to scrap cuts, but the council ultimately voted them through.

Lee Belsten, FBU Surrey brigade secretary, said: ‘These cuts are extremely dangerous and will categorically leave Surrey residents less safe. We’ve exhausted every other avenue of resistance. We’ve held rallies, circulated petitions, lobbied the council and the government, receiving huge support from Surrey residents.

‘We’ve tried to negotiate with the brigade and the council to keep Surrey safe, but they will not budge. We have no choice but to go to our last resort, industrial action.

‘There is no other way to stop these cuts. It’s vital that every Surrey firefighter vote “yes” for industrial action.’

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘It is utterly scandalous that further cuts are being made to fire services after the Grenfell Tower report. It seems those in power are willing to learn absolutely nothing about the risk of fire.

‘Fire service management in Surrey have acted disgracefully, ignoring the professional advice of their firefighters and the clear view of the public, bulldozing through changes that will make the county less safe.

‘Firefighters are here to keep their communities safe and we will do whatever is necessary to stand against dangerous cuts. Our hands are now tied – there is no other recourse left. Every Surrey firefighter should vote “yes” for industrial action.’

This year has seen the steepest rise in Surrey fire deaths in over a decade. Staffing shortages in Surrey have left fire engines unavailable to respond to emergency calls over the last year, resulting in slower response times as crews often have to travel from neighbouring counties.

The FBU is not releasing the result of the strike ballot until December 10.