Popular children’s television character Fireman Sam has been axed from a UK fire department’s promotional material for not being “inclusive” enough.
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service has removed the beloved character over concerns the mascot may discourage women from joining the force. As a result, they are replacing Fireman Sam with fire extinguisher-shaped mascots called Freddy, Filbert and Penelope.
An email to fire stations read: “It does not reflect the inclusive nature of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue,” The Sun reports.
Freddy, Filbert and Penelope who have replaced Fireman Sam as the face of fire safety.
One good shove from a 9-yr-old at a local fete and Freddy, Filbert or Penelope are going to be flailing around like an upturned tortoise. pic.twitter.com/CvVDBU4R9D
— Stuart Taylor (@stuartctaylor) September 11, 2019
“It’s important to us that our open days and community events don’t make anyone feel excluded and therefore we took this decision,” said the county’s fire chief, Les Britzman.
“There’s been a lot of research that says that images that young people have about what careers they want to do are formed when they are about four or five.
“If you are promoting that image we might be stopping people wanting to apply for the fire service 20 years down the line.”
The axing has been backed by the London Fire Brigade and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) solely because of the term “fireman” which has created an issue in recruitment.
“We’re not bothered about Fireman Sam, we’re bothered by the subconscious message the term ‘fireman’ has created as an issue in our recruitment,” Ben Selby, the FBU’s executive council member said.
“Fireman is an archaic term that doesn’t reflect the reality of the job – I think it’s time the producers of the show accept that.”
The use of the outdated term Fireman ingrains especially in the young that it is a male only role. We’ve been called firefighters for 30 years & just ask everyone to call us our job title. And that will stop excluding our women firefighters & encourage more to join. https://t.co/GTzdko1KOG
— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) September 11, 2019
The decision to ban the character has come under fire, with many claiming it’s a case of “PC gone mad”.
Television personality Piers Morgan has blasted Lincolnshire fire chief Britzman. On Good Morning Britain, Morgan asked Britzman whether he would give up his position to a woman if he felt so strongly about inclusivity on.
In the event of a house fire:
1) Raise an alarm.
2) Close all the doors.
3) Call the emergency services.
4) Explain to the operator that you only consent to be rescued by a queer woman of colour.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 11, 2019
After the furore today about Fireman Sam, other cartoon character are taking no chances…🤷♂️😳😆 pic.twitter.com/6yycdgmg8a
— Kevin Gage (@gageykev) September 11, 2019