FIRE chiefs have banned much-loved children’s TV character Fireman Sam — for being a man.
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue service has axed the 30-year-old favourite from promo material saying he is too male, too white and puts off women from joining up.
It follows complaints he was not inclusive.
He will be replaced by in-house creations, the fire extinguisher-shaped Freddy, Filbert and Penelope.
But baffled residents said it was a ridiculous decision, comparing the characters to coloured frogs and giant male contraceptives.
Graphic designer Joe Carter, 44, from Lincoln, said: “Fireman Sam works for the fire service and is called Sam. What else do they need to include?
“You wonder if our fire chiefs are operating in the real world.”
Fireman Sam has been a fixture of children’s TV since being created in the 1980s by two London firefighters.
The show now includes disabled and ethnic minority characters, while Penny Morris has long been part of his team in the Welsh village of Pontypandy.
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But it has faced sexism claims, with a 2017 campaign to rename the show Firefighter Sam being backed by London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Now, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue has become the first service to stop using him.
He will no longer feature in its ads and staff will be stopped from wearing Fireman Sam costumes. An email to stations read: “It does not reflect the inclusive nature of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue.”
The county’s fire chief Les Britzman said firefighters and residents raised concerns Fireman Sam did not properly represent the service.
He said: “It’s important to us that our open days and community events don’t make anyone feel excluded and therefore we took this decision.”
And it was backed by Richard Wright, Fire Brigades Union secretary for Lincolnshire, who insisted: “We are firefighters, not firemen.”
MASCOTS LIKE ‘MALE CONTRACEPTIVES’
Freddy and Filbert, who are said to be male, and Penelope, who is female, were created about 20 years ago by the Lincolnshire service and have been in use on and off since then.
But they will not prove as popular as Fireman Sam, residents believe.
Coastguard worker David Richard said: “What a load of rubbish. They look like giant male contraceptives.”
Bob Harrison, from Lincoln, added: “I thought they were coloured frogs.”
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One former Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue employee said her daughter watched Fireman Sam every day.
She added: “When I asked her if only men could be firefighters, she said: ‘Don’t be silly Mummy, Penny is a firefighter as well.’
“The idea it would put her off a career choice in ten years’ time because it isn’t inclusive is ridiculous.”