Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service is replacing Fireman Sam with anthropomorphic fire extinguishers after concerns he was deterring women from following their dreams of becoming firefighters.
"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," said chief fire officer Les Britzman. "If you are promoting that image we might be stopping people wanting to apply for the fire service 20 years down the line."
The Fire Brigade Union is on board, and has clarified that it's not Sam per se, but the fact that he could be putting a subconscious message out into the world that's the issue.
Britzman, who made the decision to replace Sam with the fire extinguishers Freddy, Filbert and Penelope, has said that the move was influenced by the struggle they've had recruiting women, and that he might reconsider bringing Sam back into the fold if the show is renamed to Firefighter Sam.
"The show itself is modern and up to date but the title isn't," he said, apparently dismissing the content of the series in its entirety just because of the name. Seems reasonable. But a swift name change to a show that still has a male firefighter front and centre will somehow make all the difference. "No-one in the country is called fireman anymore. It's firefighter. That's their rank."
Well, consider us told. Now we know that seeing a male firefighter in a kids' show won't put women off joining the fire service unless we acknowledge that he's a man. Phew! Glad we got that cleared up. [BBC News]
Featured image: Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue