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Stop using the term 'fireman' urges Brigade chief

16 October 2017

LONDON FIRE commissioner Dany Cotton is urging the nation to stop using the term ‘fireman’ as part of a drive to encourage more women to become firefighters.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) research shows that many women think firefighting is for men and the Brigade is concerned that referring to ‘Firemen’ reinforces that stereotype. The commissioner is asking people to show their support by stating that they will not say ‘fireman’ on their social media accounts using the hashtag #FirefightingSexism. Commissioner Cotton will launch the campaign as she attends the Women of the Year Award 2017. 

Commissioner Cotton said: "Outdated language is stopping young girls and women considering firefighting as a career. The first woman firefighter joined London Fire Brigade in 1982 and it’s ridiculous that 35 years later people are still surprised to see women firefighters or calling them firemen. London is a complex and challenging city and it takes a diverse selection of skills, strengths and specialisms to protect it - qualities that both men and women possess.

“I want to shake off outdated language which we know is stopping young girls and women from considering this rewarding and professional career. We owe it to tomorrow’s firefighters to challenge negative stereotypes today.”

The #FireFightingSexism drive is backed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan who said: “Sexism, or any kind of discrimination, has absolutely no place in London – including the capital’s Fire Brigade - and I fully support this fantastic campaign.
“Our firefighters do one of the most important jobs there is - helping to keep the rest of us safe - regardless of gender or background. Their heroic response in tackling this year’s deadly terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower tragedy is only a small proportion of their tireless
work to protect and support all of our communities.

“With the UK’s first ever woman fire commissioner at the helm, London’s Fire Brigade is leading the way in breaking down the stereotypes, removing the barriers to women in the workplace, and becoming as diverse and inclusive as the city it serves.”

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack added: “The FBU has been using the term ‘firefighter’ and not ‘firemen’ for decades, and has consistently complained to print and broadcast media and programme makers for using this archaic term that no longer represents our modern fire and rescue service.  We wholeheartedly welcome more women into the fire and rescue service because we believe that a diverse service should reflect the communities that firefighters serve.  We are proud and pleased to be part of this initiative.”

The commissioner is asking the public to support the campaign using the hashtag #FirefightingSexism on their Social Media accounts. You can show your support by using our Facebook Frame to post a selfie in support on Facebook and Instagram, and by tweeting and retweeting our #FirefightingSexism messages.