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11 September 2019, 11:05
Fireman Sam has sparked a debate today after Lincolnshire's chief fire officer claimed the children's TV character is “outdated” and should be renamed “Firefighter Sam”.
Les Britzman, the Chief Fire Officer for Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service, suggested the long-running show had put women off joining the fire service and will now use its own characters, fire extinguishers Freddy and Filbert, in future promotions.
Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid debated the topic this morning on Good Morning Britain, with Piers seeing it as “political-correctness gone mad”.
The show host was not impressed with Les, who joined the show on a live telephone link.
Les had said: “Fireman Sam and the character is outdated,” adding the use of the word “man” was the problem.
Piers snapped: “There you are representing the [fire] service and you have a problem with using any promotional material that has a male firefighter at the head. It’s totally hypocritical,.
“You have an objection for Fireman Sam who portrays the service showing a white man in charge and there you are, a white man in charge.”
However, Les argued: “Yes I am a white man, and across the fire and rescue there are 95 per cent of white male [firefighters] and this doesn’t reflect society, half our population is female.”
Fans of Fireman Sam will know the show is inclusive, with firefighters from all ethnicities, disabled characters and female firefighters, most notably Penelope.
Piers stated: “It couldn’t have a more [diverse] collection of people! [The show has been] bullied into doing everything he could possibly want and now you want to get rid of Fireman Sam!
“Why can’t fire services use the Fireman Sam brand? Why can’t you celebrate men and women? Why does everything have to be gender fluid?”
Les tried to explain the reason for the brand change, saying: “Lincolnshire is a modern brigade. We’re struggling to recruit firefighters. 50 per cent of the population are women and [the brand] it’s simply not appealing.
“The image portrayed to young girls, who are three, four or five years old, if we are sending the wrong message at that age, we’re making a problem in terms of recruitment [later on].
“Many women don’t want to be firefighters because of images like Fireman Sam.”
However, Piers was not in agreement, raising his voice to ask: “Name one! You can’t because there aren’t any! You throw this tripe nonsense that women have watched Fireman Sam and put them off! Penelope is heroic in Fireman Sam!”