A FIRE chief has called for a ban on the word “firemen” — referring to firefighters — as part of a progressive new anti-sexism campaign launched today.
London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton warned that the term is sexist and is preventing more women joining the profession.
Ms Cotton will launch the campaign against the word at the Women of the Year Award 2017.
She is asking people to hashtag #FirefightingSexism on their social media accounts to show their support.
“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,” she said.
“I want to shake off outdated language which we know is stopping young girls and women from considering this rewarding and professional career.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.”
Ms Cotton pointed out that the first female firefighter, Josephine Reynolds, joined the service in 1982.
She added: “It’s ridiculous that 35 years later people are still surprised to see women firefighters or calling them firemen.”
Ms Reynolds joined Norfolk’s fire service at 17 and was 21 when she became the first female firefighter to qualify to drive a fire engine.
Fire Brigades Union treasurer Lucy Masoud told the Star: “I would say that ‘firefighter’ is the agreed and accepted term used for many years by firefighters.
“It can be very frustrating when national newspapers, TV presenters and politicians still refer to us as firemen, especially in the wake of Grenfell, when so many hard-working female firefighters risked their lives.
“How can we expect the public to use the correct terminology when our media and government do not?”