LFB London Operation Centre

‘No such thing as a fireman’: Brigade chief

16 October 2017

London’s Fire Brigade Commissioner has urged people to stop using the term “fireman” as part of a sweeping campaign to encourage more women to become firefighters.

Dany Cotton, the first woman Commissioner of London Fire Brigade in its history, launched the campaign to banish the outdated term and break the stereotype that firefighting is a profession for men.

Social media users are encouraged to tweet their support using the hashtag #FirefightingSexism.

“London’s first woman firefighter joined the Brigade in 1982 and it’s ridiculous that 35 years later people are still surprised to see women firefighters or calling them firemen,” Cotton said.

“I want to shake off outdated language which we know is stopping young girls and women from considering this rewarding and professional career,” she said.

The term “fireman” was officially replaced with “firefighter” in all formal Brigade contracts in the late 1980s.

But as recently as 2016, research conducted by the Brigade showed that some women still saw firefighting as a role for men.

“Our firefighters do one of the most important jobs there is - helping to keep the rest of us safe - regardless of gender or background,” Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is supporting the campaign, said.

“With the UK’s first ever woman fire commissioner at the helm, London’s Fire Brigade is leading the way in breaking down the stereotypes, removing the barriers to women in the workplace, and becoming as diverse and inclusive as the city it serves.”

Women were accepted into the Brigade for the first time during World War Two. However, they did not put out fires but became drivers and despatch riders, among other roles.

There are now over 300 female firefighters in London Fire Brigade.