London politicians have paid tribute to fire commissioner Ron Dobson who has announced his resignation.
Mr Dobson joined the London Fire Brigade in 1979 and became London Fire Commissioner in 2007.
He was one of the first senior officers at the scene of the 1996 Canary Wharf bomb blast where he coordinated the search operation.
In 2005 he was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal in 2005 and was made a CBE in the 2011 New Year honours.
Over the past year he repeatedly found himself caught up in the political row about the Brigade’s future, with members of the capital’s fire authority publicly disagreeing with proposals he drew up to meet City Hall and government imposed budget cuts.
He will remain in post for the six months to allow a successor to be appointed.
Announcing his resignation, Mr Dobson said: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision for me to reach because it has been an honour and a privilege to be the leader of what I consider to be without doubt the best fire and rescue service in the world.
“I believe now is the right time for both the London Fire Brigade and me to make this change.”
City Hall politicians, including the Mayor, have paid tribute to the commissioner’s work.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Ron Dobson has been an exemplary Fire Commissioner – leading London through difficult times and important events including the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“He has worked tirelessly to modernise the fire service, whilst at the same time cutting significantly the number of deaths and injuries from fire across the capital. I am grateful for his advice, his leadership and his immense dedication.”
London Assembly member and fire authority Chairman, James Cleverly, added: “It has been a pleasure working with Ron Dobson over the last few years.
“Under his leadership the London Fire Brigade has gone through a significant period of modernisation and is now in an excellent position to face the broadening challenges of protecting the world’s greatest city.”
“He has been a great support and advisor to the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority and I know he is held in high regard by its members.
“On behalf of the Authority I want to thank him for his 35 years of service to London and the professionalism with which he has discharged his duty as Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade.”
Labour’s London Assembly, Fiona Twycross AM, said: “Ron Dobson’s resignation comes after a lifetime’s service to Londoners at the London Fire Brigade and I pay tribute to his years of committed service.
“This is an important, challenging and at times thankless job and one which he has carried out professionally and with integrity at all times. He will be a great loss to the Fire Brigade.”
Green party AM and fire authority member, Darren Johnson, said:”I have always found Ron honest and straightforward to deal with and absolutely passionate about the London Fire Brigade.
“His London Safety Plan was hugely controversial given the scale of fire station closures and appliance reductions but it was the Mayor who starved the fire brigade of funds not the Commissioner and Ron did the best he could within the budget he was given.
“I have always enjoyed working with Ron as a dedicated and committed public servant and wish him well in his retirement.”
Liberal Democrat Stephen Knight AM commented: “Ron Dobson has made a huge personal contribution to the fire safety of Londoners over his 35 year career and especially as london’s Fire commissioner since 2007.
“He has provided clear and professional leadership to the London fire brigade through some very difficult times and has always shown a level of personal integrity that has commanded respect from fire authority members of all political parties.
“His leadership will be greatly missed and finding a successor will be no easy task.”
On Twitter, the Fire Brigades Union said: “Sadly, the retiring commissioner will be remembered for trying to sack 5,500 firefighters & making the most savage cuts in the LFB’s history”.