A fire service has axed the use of Fireman Sam because the character is 'outdated' and 'not inclusive'.
The decision to do away with a mascot from the kids TV show, in an effort to encourage more women to join, has been branded as "ridiculous".
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue said a "small" number of complaints from staff members and the public led to the call to remove the mascot of 30 years.
Fireman Sam had been used alongside two fire extinguishers named Freddie and Filbert to encourage recruitment to the service and promote fire station open days.
But it'll now be replaced by Penelope, a special in-house creation.
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."
Another baffled Lincoln resident, David Richard, suggested the Freddie, Filbert and Penelope trio "like giant male contraceptives”.
"What a load of rubbish," the coastguard worker told The Sun .
But the fire service, which shares is headquarters with the county's police force at a hub in Nettleham, near Lincoln, stressed it has a problem in recruiting women.
Les Britzman, Chief Fire Officer for Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, said: "We haven't banned Fireman Sam.
"What we were saying is after following complaints from staff and members of the public we've decided it's no longer appropriate to use that image in our promotional material.
"We're not here to pander to people's views – or pander to Piers Morgan's views.
"Fireman Sam is not our brand – we can't freely use that and put it in our promotional material.
"We haven't got rid of him because he's a man but because Fireman Sam does not reflect the image we want to achieve.
"It really is an issue in Lincolnshire – we struggle to recruit on call staff massively and if we're excluding women from applying, because the research says women don't even want to apply – not that they can't do the job.
"It is [to do with Fireman Sam]. These images have an impact on that mindset at a very early age and they form what people want to do."
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