"Great fires of London!" I've been sacked!
Children's TV favourite Fireman Sam has been sidelined by a fire service for being "outdated" and not "inclusive" enough.
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue will instead use blue, red and yellow fire extinguisher characters Freddy, Filbert and Penelope at promotional events.
Chief Fire Officer, Les Britzman, said the Sam mascot did not help sell the fire safety message.
He said the service has received complaints from the public about using the character.
He said: "Firefighters nationally and residents locally have raised some concerns that Fireman Sam doesn't reflect the fire service today, in terms of both the job itself and our workforce.
"It's important to us that our open days and community events don't make anyone feel excluded and therefore we took this decision."
He added: "We always make sure that we include plenty of activities and other ways to engage children and adults, to help them learn more about fire safety and a firefighter's role."
Fireman Sam first appeared on TV screens in 1987. He works in the fictional Welsh town on Pontypandy
The mascot has been used by the Lincolnshire fire service in the past to advertise open days, as well as at various charity events.
The move to axe Sam sparked a fierce online debate, with many calling it out as political correctness gone overboard.
Others also pointed out the show features a prominent female firefighter, Penny, who is often seen at the forefront of tackling blazes, taking part in rescues and doing everything Sam does.
London Fire Brigade defended their colleagues in Lincolnshire, saying on Twitter: "When @GMB discuss Fireman Sam & someone from the fire service comes on to say why the title of the show doesn’t reflect our profession we get comments like this. And this is why we will continue to educate the public about why women make excellent firefighters."
Earlier this year, the service criticised Fireman Sam and Peppa Pig of being sexist for using the term "fireman" instead of "firefighter" during an episode.
Mr Britzman appeared on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday and came under fire from host Piers Morgan.
“Yes, Fireman Sam is modern, it has firefighter Penny, it has helicopters and a boat team," said Mr Britzman.
"But why can’t the producers or the owners update the brand and call it Firefighter Sam?
“The programme overall reflects the diversity but the character Fireman Sam doesn’t reflect diversity, we don’t call our firefighters firemen any more. It’s outdated."
According to Government statistics, 5.2% of firefighters in England were women in 2017.