Fire chief recalls sexist abuse received after equality campaign

London Fire Brigade Chief Dany Cotton said she received hate mail after advocating that people use the word “firefighter” instead of “fireman”

By FireRescue1 Staff

LONDON — A fire chief said she became the subject of hateful sexist abuse after advocating for the use of the word “firefighter” instead of “fireman.”

The Guardian reported that London Fire Brigade Chief Dany Cotton received hate mail when she suggested that the cartoon character Fireman Sam be called Firefighter Sam instead in an effort to inspire girls, as well as boys, to follow their dreams.

“The backlash I’ve had – the vitriol, the spite, the unpleasantness – truly horrified and shocked me. And it showed me we’ve got a long way to go,” Cotton said. “For a little while, it made me want to back off and hide in a cave because it was shocking. I had letters of hate written to me at work.”

Cotton recently spoke at an event called “Gender Equality: will it take another 100 years” and highlighted the sexism she has experienced throughout her 30-year career, including positive discrimination.

“For every single rank promotion I’ve got, I have been told, every single time, that I’m going to get the job because I’m the only woman on the panel – even the job I’ve got now. Which is quite bizarre, really,” she said.

Cotton also said at the event that she hopes women will “reach out and support” each other.

“Equality is important. It’s about how life should be, not about obtaining it in 100 years, it’s about us doing it now, doing it collectively in small areas working together and standing up for what is right and what should be happening,” Cotton said.


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