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Term ‘firemen’ puts women off joining, says Dany Cotton

‘Firemen’ are outdated and people should use the term ‘firefighters’ instead, according to London’s Fire Chief.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has launched a campaign to stop people using the term ‘fireman’ and to use the gender neutral ‘firefighters’ instead.

She is urging Brits to show their support with the hashtag #firefightingsexism over concerns the term ‘fireman’ could put women off joining the service.

Dany Cotton, who skipped university to join the London Fire Brigade, says outdated language is stopping women from taking a similar path

The launch of the campaign comes at a busy time for the brigade, as the Grenfell Inquiry continues.

Chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick is still investigating the blaze, which killed around 80 people.

And some residents perished in the block after 999 operators told them to stay inside and wait for help.

In August the London Fire Commissioner revealed she received counselling to help her deal with the trauma of the blaze.

Ms Cotton said: ‘The first woman firefighter joined London Fire Brigade in 1982 and it’s ridiculous that 35 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.’

She added: ‘I want to shake off outdated language which we know is stopping young girls and women from considering this rewarding and professional career.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.’

London-born Ms Cotton became the capital's first female fire commissioner in January

London-born Ms Cotton became the capital’s first female fire commissioner in January

In April Labour-run Harlow Council in Essex banned the terms ‘chairman’ and ‘vice-chairman’ in exchange for the gender-neutral term ‘chairperson’.

Tory councillor Shona Johnson tried to get the motion scrapped, but failed as the Labour majority passed it.

At the time she said: ‘I have no problem with being called chairman, nor does it demean me as a woman. Once this language police starts, where will it stop?’ F

Ms Cotton will launch the anti-sexism campaign as she attends the Women of the Year Award 2017 today.

Born in London, Dany Cotton, 48, became the capital’s first female fire commissioner in January.

She joined the fire service aged 18 in and within months attended the Clapham rail disaster, in which 35 people died.

In an interview with The Guardian she told how her parents wanted her to go to university but she said: ‘That wasn’t for me.’

As a teenager she was a member of the Air Training Corps.

She left training college in 1988 as one of three women in her year.

At the time, she was the 30th woman to have joined a 6,000 strong service.

She told The Guardian in January: ‘One single thing that would help bring more women into the service? Stop saying ‘fireman’.

‘Why did they have to go for Fireman Sam? What’s wrong with Firefighter Sam?

‘We have to change that perception of a six foot hairy-arsed bloke who can kick a door down.’

In 2010 Ms Cotton became deputy assistant commissioner of the brigade.

She went on to become assistant commissioner in 2012.