A Truro firefighter has raised the alarm about the increased risk of deadly fires in the wake of the pandemic. 

He has warned that people are putting themselves in danger, and fire safety standards nosedived during lockdown. 

Owen Hodgson, 36, a firefighter for Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service, regularly visits nurseries, schools and colleges to give talks to various age groups about fire and road safety, as well as doing community outreach work, for example by fitting fire alarms for vulnerable people or inviting community groups to visit the fire station. 

“The pandemic has had an obvious impact on people’s fire safety,” he said. “There’s been a really noticeable rise in the number of people with alarms that aren’t working properly or that are out of date. It is such a simple thing but can be very dangerous if it isn’t fixed.” 

Owen said the fire service in Truro was working hard to get back into the community to check fire alarms through home visits, saying: “During lockdown the community events – school talks, coffee mornings, site visits – had to stop for two years, and they have only just started back up again.” 

He spoke after receiving free laser eye surgery from Optical Express as part of its Thanks a Million campaign, to reward NHS and emergency service workers for their hard work, particularly during the pandemic.  

Owen had worn glasses all his life, but these were unsuitable at work. He had tried wearing contact lenses, but his eyes would become uncomfortable working long shifts, and he was worried about touching his eyes after handling potentially toxic substances. 

The Thanks a Million campaign was launched in 2017. Over the course of the two campaigns, more than £2-million worth of surgery has been carried out to improve the lives of NHS and emergency service workers.  

Chairman and CEO David Moulsdale said: “We are passionate about giving something back to those who protect the public and to acknowledge the sacrifices they made, working tirelessly over the last three years to keep us safe. We are delighted we can contribute to giving them the thanks they deserve.”