Fire chiefs have banned children’s TV character Fireman Sam from being used as a mascot – saying he’s ‘not inclusive enough’.

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service axed the fictional character, who is white and male, over concerns he may discourage women or ethnic minorities from joining the force.

It will now rely on its other two mascots, Freddy and Filbert, which are blue and red fire extinguishers complete with hands, a mouth and eyes.

But the move has led to fire chiefs being labelled ‘snowflakes’ and accusations of ‘political correctness gone too far’ as people slam the ‘absurdity’ of the move.

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service axed Fireman Sam over concerns he may discourage women or ethnic minorities from joining the force (pictured, a firefighter dressed as Fireman Sam alongside Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service’s other mascots Freddy and Filbert, which are blue and red fire extinguishers)

Employees were notified in an email which said that Sam (pictured in the BBC television series), who has been on British televisions for 30 years, ‘does not reflect the inclusive nature of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue’

Fireman Sam was created in the 1980s by two London firefighters and now includes disabled and ethnic minority characters, and has had female firefighter Penny Morris in its ranks for many years now (pictured with Sam in a BBC promo image)

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service has previously used Fireman Sam in its promotional material, such as this Facebook post

Employees were notified in an email which said that Sam, who has been on British televisions for 30 years, ‘does not reflect the inclusive nature of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue’.

It added: ‘Please can you ensure when you are designing posters that Fireman Sam is not used and more inclusive images are utilised. This includes no longer using the Fireman Sam costumes on stations.’

Fireman Sam was created in the 1980s by two London firefighters and now includes disabled and ethnic minority characters, and has had female firefighter Penny Morris in its ranks for many years now. 

But it has faced sexism claims in recent years, with Ann Millington, the Chief Executive of the Kent Fire and Rescue Service, last year calling for the character to be re-named ‘Firefighter Sam’.

A similar campaign was also launched in 2017 and backed by London mayor Sadiq Khan – with Alex Johnson, deputy chief of South Yorkshire Fire, also saying show is not a true reflection of what the job is actually like.

Freddy and Filbert, who are said to be male, and Penelope, who is female, will be used in future promotional material – despite their having appeared alongside Fireman Sam at promotional events for the service in the past (pictured in a Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Facebook post)

The move has faced a fierce backlash, with many commenting about the news on social media (above and below)

Now, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service has become the first service to ban the character, and will now use their alternative mascots created around 20 years ago.  

Freddy and Filbert, who are said to be male, and Penelope, who is female, will be used in future promotional material – despite their having appeared alongside Fireman Sam at promotional events for the service in the past.   

Lincolnshire’s chief fire officer Les Britzman told The Lincolnite newspaper: ‘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.’

The move was backed by Richard Wright, Fire Brigades Union secretary for Lincolnshire. He told The Sun: ‘We are firefighters, not firemen.’

But the move has faced a fierce backlash, with many commenting about the news on social media. 

Writing on Twitter, one resident said: ‘Just found out that our local firecrew are dropping Fireman Sam as a mascot because they’re concerned about gender stereotypes. God forbid we should encourage our young men to join the fire service.’

While Paul Sweeney, writing on Facebook, said: ‘So they drop a character depicting the role of a firefighter and people think it’s not inclusive enough for the firefighting field? Jesus Christ, people need to seriously get a grip.’

The Claymation version of Fireman Sam for the BBC ended in 2006, but it was revived in 2008 featuring diverse characters including Penny Morris, a female firefighter (pictured, in a new animated series)

And Mircea Fulga wrote: ‘It is not just about the absurdity of the new politically correct fanatics and their demands. It also is about the cowardice of those who accept their demands.’

The Claymation version of Fireman Sam for the BBC ended in 2006, but it was revived in 2008 featuring diverse characters including Penny Morris, a female firefighter.

Some picked up on this, with Julie Berriman saying: ‘Oh dear poor old Fireman Sam. What about Ellie and Penny Morris. Female fire fighters.’ 

And Sarai Meles said: ‘Wasn’t there a female firefighter in the TV show too? Perhaps they could add her to their posters rather than removing him. 

‘Now, instead of encouraging boys and girls to become fire-people, they’re encouraging them to – um – become fire extinguishers with faces?’

Others also criticised the other Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service mascots, with Chrissy Yates saying: ‘Can someone tell me how Freddy & Filbert are “more inclusive” & “reflect the work of the fire service?”‘

While another said: ‘So Fireman Sam isn’t inclusive, but two out of date male fire extinguishers is ok.’

Also earlier this year, the writer who created Fireman Sam waded into the show’s sexism row and hit back at critics who said the programme puts women off joining the service.

David Jones, who is himself a former firefighter, said that the animation is meant to educate its young audience on fire safety and was not designed as a recruitment drive.  

Speaking on BBC Radio 2, he said: ‘It is for children, it wasn’t meant to be advertised as a recruiting post.

‘It is supposed to teach kids some small safety items. Someone doesn’t join the fire service when they watch Fireman Sam.

‘They wouldn’t be the right people for the job if that was their mentality.’

A fierce debate began after the Welsh firefighter, from Pontypandy, Alex Johnson, deputy chief of South Yorkshire Fire said the show ‘doesn’t help to break down stereotypes.’ 

But Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan added fuel to the fire and wrote: ‘If women are being “put off” joining the fire service because Fireman Sam – A CARTOON CHARACTER – supposedly “perpetuates male stereotypes” then can I politely suggest these women probably don’t have what it takes to fight fires.’ 

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