Fireman Sam is putting women off joining the fire service because “most of the job is nothing like it is portrayed”, a female chief has said.
Senior fire officer Alex Johnson believes the CGI firefighting idol and images of men rushing into burning buildings does little to encourage gender equality.
She is campaigning to attract more women into the 999 service with just 5.2 per cent of firefighters in England women. In 2017 there were 1,838 female firefighters compared to 33,782 male firefighters.
“This is largely because of the image of firefighters portrayed in the media and in films, which is of men rushing into burning buildings to rescue people,” Ms Johnson, temporary deputy chief fire officer for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said.
“Children’s shows like Fireman Sam don’t help to break down stereotypes either.Most of the job is nothing like it is portrayed. We do community and youth engagement work, where we need to be seen to be representative of the population.
” Women and people from different ethnic backgrounds are simply not considering being a firefighter because they are not seeing themselves represented.”
Ms Johnson has fronted a social media campaign to get women to join the fire service, which focuses on children singing the praises of their firefighter mums.