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The Brigade has condemned ITV’s Love Island for conforming to stereotypes following a challenge in which the male Islanders dressed as firefighters.
During last night’s Love Island challenge, the male Islanders dressed up in fire gear before stripping to their underwear, sliding down a pole, giving a female contestant a firefighter’s lift and rescuing a toy cat stuck in a tree. The Brigade is writing to the show’s producers to complain.
The programme and contestants also repeatedly used the outdated term ‘Fireman’, which was abolished by the fire service in the early 1980s.
Our #FireFightingSexism campaign launched in October last year to urge the nation to stop using the term ‘Fireman’, following research which shows that many women think firefighting is for men. The Brigade is concerned that referring to ‘Firemen’ reinforces that stereotype.
In London, there are more than 300 women working as firefighters, with the first female firefighter joining the Brigade in 1982. The term ‘fireman’ has not been used at the Brigade for more than 30 years.
Steve Apter, Deputy Commissioner and the Brigade’s Director of Safety and Assurance, said: “As a programme that openly encourages women to be independent, I am extremely disappointed that the producers thought it was acceptable to conform to outdated stereotypes and repeatedly use the word ‘Fireman’.
“Firefighting is a job for both men and women and it’s ridiculous that 35 years after the first female firefighter joined London Fire Brigade, that people still refer to the job as fireman.
“While we understand that the challenges on television programmes like Love Island are just for fun, we want to shake off these outdated stereotypes and language choices so more women consider firefighting as a career.
“We owe it to tomorrow’s firefighters to challenge negative stereotypes today.”
In 2016 the Brigade conducted research which revealed that some women still see the firefighter role for men because of the way it is portrayed in the media, a lack of information available to young girls and unrealistic perceptions of what the role includes.
Earlier this year, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton wrote to media broadcasters, newspapers, news programmes, advertising agencies and children’s television programmes asking them to ban the use of the word fireman.