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The Evening Standard Called London's Female Fire Commissioner "He" In An Article About Sexism

The London Fire Brigade told BuzzFeed News the mistake highlighted the importance of its "Firefighting Sexism" campaign.

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Dany Cotton
Doug Peters / Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment

Dany Cotton

Firefighters demanded an apology from the Evening Standard after an article about the London Fire Brigade's "Firefighting Sexism" campaign referred to female commissioner Dany Cotton as "he".

The Standard ran a piece on Wednesday morning with the headline "London Fire Brigade accuses BBC of sexism over use of term 'fireman' in children's show Hey Duggee", after an account run by firefighters based in Greenwich, south London, posted a series of tweets criticising the television programme.

Isn't it sad when one of our longest serving firefighters, a woman who fought the King's Cross fire 30 years ago, s… https://t.co/sdI2pnhmrK

The article referenced the LFB's "Firefighting Sexism" campaign, and included comments Cotton had previously made to the Standard, but referred to her as "he".

The LFB said that the use of the incorrect pronoun highlighted the importance of the campaign, with too many people automatically assuming that the commander would be male.

London Fire Brigade Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Philpott told BuzzFeed News: “It’s a bit of ‘facepalm’ moment but it outlines how important our #FirefightingSexism campaign is.

"Too many people assume that firefighting is a job for a man and that our commissioner is also a man! We have used the term 'firefighters' for more than 30 years.”

Several individual firefighters also criticised the newspaper on Twitter, and demanded an apology for the mistake.

He!!! Really? I am quickly losing faith in the UK media. I am sure an apology will follow ? #FirefightingSexism

Pat McElhinney, Fire Officers Association executive board member for Scotland, tweeted: "Honestly??? Ya having a laugh. A London Based News Paper continues to forget that their Fire Commissioner is a female. 'He'??? Apology Required."

While Meriel Beale, a TV producer, tweeted at the newspaper to say: "Hi @standardnews, Dany Cotton, the commissioner of @LondonFire is a ‘she’ not a ‘he’. And you wonder why the term ‘fireMAN’ is considered outdated. Amazing."

A spokesperson for the Evening Standard told BuzzFeed News: “The Standard has published numerous articles about Ms Cotton. Today’s slip was an unfortunate human error which was rectified within a few minutes.”

Hannah Al-Othman is a political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Hannah Al-Othman at hannah.al-othman@buzzfeed.com.

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