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A journalist with 13 years of experience on trade publications covering construction, local government, property, pubs, and transport.
August 21, 2017

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Mental health

Grenfell: Fire chief sought counselling following disaster

The commissioner of the London Fire Brigade has revealed she sought professional help following the trauma inflicted by the Grenfell Tower disaster – and highlighted the need to address mental health issues.

Dany Cotton, who is the first female commissioner of the LFB, made the comments during an interview on an LBC radio show.

Speaking about the mental health of firefighters to host Nick Ferrari, and referencing that their wellbeing was ‘really key’ to her, Cotton said that she ‘happened to be having counselling myself.’

Overwhelming sense of responsibility

She said: “It’s really important. It’s something that people need to talk about and work through to try and stop them having problems in the future.

“One of the things I felt on the night was the overwhelming sense of responsibility because I was in charge and it was my firefighters at risk in the building, so that was an overwhelming sensation I never really experienced before so it’s working through that for me.

“And also I was there for a long time. It’s trying to get your memory in the right order and work out what happened. But it’s something I am working through and I think it’s something important for everybody to recognise.”

Macho culture

She has previously criticised the ‘hairy arsed macho image’ of firefighters and has campaigned for more women to enter the profession.

Cotton also described Grenfell Tower, where 250 firefighters took more than 24 hours to put out the blaze, as the worst fire she had ever seen in her nearly 30 year career.

All firefighters were offered a councilling assessment after finishing their shifts from the Brigade’s own in-house team.

Cotton told Ferrari “It’s OK not to be OK, and it’s really OK to talk about it.

“So, for me, the important thing is to keep talking about it, to seek professional help, to talk about it amongst your colleagues because it will be something that will affect people long into the future.”

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3 years ago

I am disappointed that the title of the article uses the word ‘admits’ and the first paragraph refers to the gender of the LFB Commissioner. Admit is a synonym for ‘confess’ and is generally used to suggest the thing being disclosed is shameful or wrong. Using a counselling service to help process the trauma of dealing with a mass-fatality incident isn’t something that is shameful or wrong. It should be the norm that people look after their mental health after such awful work activities, and should be considered in the risk assessment for these kinds of occupations. The combination of… Read more »