A firefighter from Cornwall 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, 36, from Truro and 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.
Owen said: “The pandemic has had an obvious impact on people’s fire safety, and there’s been a really noticeable rise in the number of people with alarms that aren’t working properly or that are out of date.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.”
“During lockdown the community events – school talks, coffee mornings, site visits – all of that had to stop for two years, and has only just started back up again.”
He said that the fire service in Truro was working hard to get back into the community to check fire alarms through home visits.
Owen spoke after receiving free laser eye surgery from Optical Express, as part of its ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign, to thank 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 also tried wearing contact lenses, however, his eyes would become uncomfortable working long shifts, and he was worried about touching his eyes after handling potentially toxic substances.
He said that working during the pandemic was challenging, and that he and his colleagues suddenly had to adapt to operational challenges. CPR had to be performed differently to reduce the risk of infection, while wearing masks in the truck could make communication difficult.
However, he believes that the local community show a lot of appreciation for his work.
He said: “I think being a more rural service, we do actually get a lot a gratitude – I can’t speak for firefighters across the country. But around here there’s a community feel and I really appreciate the support.”
David Moulsdale, Chairman and CEO of Optical Express, said: “Optical Express’s ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign allows us to improve the lives of so many hardworking people. This is the second time we have launched this campaign because we are passionate about giving something back to those who protect the public and to acknowledge the sacrifices they made during the pandemic.
“People are rightly proud of our NHS and Emergency Service workers in this country, and they have worked tirelessly over the last three years to keep us safe. We are delighted that we can contribute to giving them the thanks that they deserve.”
It is the second time that Optical Express has chosen to thank NHS and Emergency Service workers in this way. In 2017 they launched their first ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign which saw them give away over £1 million worth of free laser eye surgery. Over the course of the two campaigns more than £2 million worth of surgery will improve the lives of NHS and Emergency Service workers. Since Optical Express was founded 32 years ago, the team are proud to have supported hundreds of humanitarian and philanthropic projects, donating over £33 million and counting to worthwhile causes in the UK and abroad.