While giving evidence to the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster, the head of the London Fire Brigade (LFB) said that the ferocity of the fire was so unexpected that it was like ‘a space shuttle landing on Shard’.
She added that she had an “overwhelming continuous feeling of anxiety” as crews were committed to the high rise: “I would defy anybody, going into that building and seeing the nature of what they were walking into, not to admit to the fact they were petrified of what they were doing,” she said, adding: “The building was so hugely involved in fire; you cannot help but compare it to 9/11.”
She added: “I wanted those firefighter to have a positive reinforced memory before they went into the building of somebody saying nice things to them, being supportive and demonstrating to them that somebody really cared.”
The fire brigade “should never have been put in that position to have responded to that incident in that way”, she said, adding: “It has truly damaged some people who witnessed some terrible things and who will never forget them. They will wear the scars for the rest of their life.”
Cotton added that she had been traumatised by the fire on 14 June 2017 and had suffered memory loss around the incident. She was undergoing treatment designed to help her recall the events, she said, but it “has not been terribly successful”.