The London Fire Brigade has criticised Love Island for “conforming to stereotypes” for airing a challenge based on firefighters.
The task, which was broadcast during Thursday’s episode of the ITV2 dating show, saw the male contestants dressed in costumes depicting firefighters while sliding down poles, stripping to their underwear and carrying their female co-stars to safety.
London’s fire and rescue service condemned both the challenge itself, and the use of the “outdated” word fireman throughout.
A message on the London Fire Brigade’s official Twitter account read: “It might be one of the hottest tv shows in 2018, but the stereotypes used on #LoveIsland were straight from the 1970s.
“The term fireman hasn’t been used for more than 30 years and women can be firefighters too #FireFightingSexism.”
A follow-up tweet read: “If #LoveIsland had just the women islanders as nurses tending to the men, would people have found that acceptable?
“Last night’s ‘fireman challenge’ shows why we need #Firefightingsexism to show firefighting is a profession for all.”
The brigade shared an article which said it was “writing to the show’s producers to complain”.
It highlighted its #FireFightingSexism campaign, which was launched in October last year and which urges the nation to stop using the term “fireman”.
The brigade said the campaign was prompted when research from 2016 showed that many women think firefighting is just for men, and it added that the use of the term fireman “reinforces that stereotype”.
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women to be independent, I am extremely disappointed that the producers thought it was acceptable to conform to outdated stereotypes and repeatedly use the word ‘fireman’.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understand that the challenges on television programmes like Love Island are just for fun, we want to shake off these outdated stereotypes and language choices so more women consider firefighting as a career.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.”
The Press Association has contacted a representative of ITV2 for comment.