London Fire Brigade

Top woman for a top firefighting job

05 March 2007

As the world celebrates International Women’s Week, the London Fire Brigade is celebrating the promotion of Danielle (Dany) Cotton to the most senior operational role held by a woman in the UK fire and rescue services.

Dany’s promotion to Area Manager was confirmed earlier this year after she successfully completed the London Fire Brigade’s assessments and tests. She is based at the Brigade’s headquarters and works directly to the Assistant Commissioner for service delivery.

“I am proud of being the highest ranking operational woman in the UK fire service” said Dany Cotton. “I hope my promotion inspires other women to consider firefighting as a good career choice and to also encourage existing women firefighters to actively seek promotion.

“A career in the Brigade brings so many rewards. Saving people’s lives, whether by carrying out a rescue at a fire or educating them about fire safety, is probably one of the most rewarding things anyone can do. I have worked really hard to achieve my promotion but it has been an enjoyable and an ultimately rewarding experience and the best career choice I could have made”.

Dany’s latest success comes after being the first woman firefighter in the UK to be awarded the Queens Fire Service Medal in 2004 and being named Outstanding Public Servant of the Year in a competition organised by Public Finance Magazine and the Cabinet Office in 2002.

She joined the Brigade in 1988, joining Wimbledon Fire Station after successfully completing her training. Her most rewarding experience was being directly responsible for saving the lives of a young couple from a fire in Purley and the most traumatic was in 1988, after only three months after leaving training school, when she attended the Clapham rail crash, one of the worst train disasters in the UK.

Val Shawcross, Chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority said: "This is great news for Dany and for the London Fire Brigade. I am really proud that London Fire Brigade has the highest number serving women firefighters and now the highest ranking female officer in the UK. During International Women's Week it's so important to mark the achievements of women firefighters and increase their representation in the workforce.

“The work of the Brigade is changing from the perception of traditional firefighting roles. Modern firefighters must be able to fight fire and educate the community about the dangers of fire. Women have a vital role to play in the future of the service and that is why we continue to encourage more women to take up a career with us. Dany’s success illustrates that women can work their way up the promotional ladder and are as capable and successful as their male colleagues.”

The London Fire Brigade is actively encouraging more women to think about firefighting as a career. Throughout the year, the Brigade holds recruitment open days aimed at women at its training centre in Southwark, London. It also attends career events at various locations across London.

As a direct result of the Brigade’s positive action, it has increased the numbers of women firefghters from 75 in 2002 to 190 in March 2007, a rise of around 150 per cent, with 14 women firefighters ‘waiting in the wings’ to start which will bring our total to over 200.

If you would like information about becoming a London firefighter, visit our website­careers or email Dawne Stephenson at

Note to editors:
High res pics available of Dani Cotton. Contact the press office.

Members of the media can obtain further information from the press office on:

telephone number: 020 8536 5922