Fireman Sam axed as fire service mascot ‘because he is not inclusive enough’

Fireman Sam

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service said it made the decision after receiving negative feedback about the mascot, which is based on the popular children’s TV show.

Now the force’s other mascots – fire extinguisher-shaped Freddy, Filbert and Penelope – will be used in place of Fireman Sam.

According to Government statistics, 5.2% of firefighters in England were women in 2017.

Lincolnshire’s Chief Fire Officer, Les Britzman, said the mascot was “outdated” and did not help sell the fire safety message.

He said: “Firefighters nationally and residents locally have raised some concerns that Fireman Sam doesn’t reflect the fire service today, in terms of both the job itself and our workforce.

“It’s important to us that our open days and community events don’t make anyone feel excluded and therefore we took this decision.

“We always make sure that we include plenty of activities and other ways to engage children and adults, to help them learn more about fire safety and a firefighter’s role.”

Lincolnshire County Council showing their three mascots, Freddy (left) Fireman Sam (centre), and Filbert (right)
Lincolnshire County Council showing their three mascots, Freddy (left) Fireman Sam (centre), and Filbert (right) CREDIT: PA

The mascot has been used by the force in the past to advertise open days, as well as at various charity events.

However, the decision has been heavily criticised on social media.

 One Twitter user said: “This increasing desire to remove men from being role models is getting ridiculous.”

Another added: “They’ve really axed Fireman Sam for being a male? This is the world our children are growing up in! Being male is now a problem?”

However, London Fire Brigade supported the decision and wrote on Twitter: “The use of the outdated term Fireman ingrains especially in the young that it is a male only role.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 and just ask everyone to call us our job title. And that will stop excluding our women firefighters & encourage more to join.”

Ben Selby, FBU executive council member for the East Midlands, said the term “fireman” was “archaic”, adding: “Women firefighters risk their lives every single day – calling them by their rightful title, firefighter, should not be too much to ask.”

Earlier this year, the service criticised children’s TV show Fireman Sam and Peppa Pig of being sexist for using the term “fireman” instead of “firefighter” during an episode.

Fireman Sam should be renamed Firefighter Sam, says fire chief

Dany Cotton, London Fire Commissioner, revealed last March that she had been bombarded with abuse and had hate mail sent to her workplace after launching a campaign to encourage people to refer to “firefighters” rather than “firemen.”

She had suggested that Fireman Sam should be renamed Firefighter Sam as part of a campaign to encourage more women to consider a role in the fire brigade.

Fireman Sam was first aired an 1987 and finally recruited a female crew mate, Penny, in 2003, although Sam continues to save the day in most episodes.

Dany Cotton

A spokeswoman for Mattel, which represents the Fireman Sam brand, said at the time the company was committed to representing the work of all firefighters appropriately through the show.

“Fireman Sam is a much loved and iconic brand and we are constantly evolving to make sure that we stay true to the show’s heritage, as well as representing the world that children see around them today,” she added.

“The team are always referred to throughout the show as firefighters except Sam, whose title has not evolved in his role as the show’s namesake.

“We recognise the need to stay relevant and we continue to evaluate the show to ensure Sam remains an aspirational hero for generations of pre-schoolers.”

In March this year, another female chief claimed Fireman Sam was putting women off joining the fire service because “most of the job is nothing like it is portrayed”.

Senior fire officer Alex Johnson believes the CGI firefighting idol and images of men rushing into burning buildings does little to encourage gender equality.

She is campaigning to attract more women into the 999 service with just 5.2 per cent of firefighters in England women. In 2017 there were 1,838 female firefighters compared to 33,782 male firefighters.

“This is largely because of the image of firefighters portrayed in the media and in films, which is of men rushing into burning buildings to rescue people,” Ms Johnson, temporary deputy chief fire officer for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said.

“Children’s shows like Fireman Sam don’t help to break down stereotypes either.Most of the job is nothing like it is portrayed. We do community and youth engagement work, where we need to be seen to be representative of the population.

” Women and people from different ethnic backgrounds are simply not considering being a firefighter because they are not seeing themselves represented.”

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