London Fire Brigade accuses BBC of sexism over use of term 'fireman' in children's show Hey Duggee

Martin Coulter
The LFB criticised the BBC for its use of the term 'fireman': BBC

The London Fire Brigade has accused the BBC of sexism after the term fireman was used instead of firefighter in a children’s TV show.

A Twitter account for crews based in Greenwich, south London, posted a series of tweets after a squirrel was referred to as a fireman in popular CBeebies show Hey Duggee.

The post branded the term "outdated" and described how a retired female firefighter was forced to to explain the use of the phrase to her two-year-old grandson after watching series two episode 'Dressing Up Box'.

Tweets posted from the account read: "Isn't it sad when one of our longest serving firefighters, a woman who fought the King's Cross fire 30 years ago, still has to watch TV with her two-year-old grandson and explain why the squirrel in Hey referred to as a 'fireman'.

"This term is VERY outdated and the term 'firefighter' is the preferred, respectful, inclusive, non-sexist, non-gendered term that should be widely used by all media but especially the BBC."

Another post added: "Women have been firefighting for over 40 years now...Non-sexist, all-inclusive terminology is important if we want to encourage girls, as well as boys, to be future firefighters."

The account went on to quote the anonymous female firefighter, writing: "I was one of the first few women firefighters in the LFB back in the 80s.

"I did 30 years service and have been retired for nearly three years...It breaks my heart to still have to point this out - especially whilst viewing it with my grandchildren."

The LFB began its 'Firefighting Sexism' campaign in October, with London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton telling the Standard she wants to "shake off outdated language".

She said: “The first woman firefighter joined London Fire Brigade in 1982 and it’s ridiculous that 36 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"I want to shake off outdated language which we know is stopping young girls and women from considering this rewarding and professional career.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 hit show, which first aired in 2015, is aimed at two-to-five-year-olds and has won BAFTA and Emmy Awards over the course of two series.

The Standard has approached the BBC for comment.