On May 21, a fire broke out at one of the stalls at Tampines Round Market.
Four Singapore Civil Defence Force fire engines were dispatched.
To access the site, the vehicles had to enter the adjacent carpark. The first one managed to enter, but the second faced problems, as the gantry could not detect its in-vehicle unit and, thus, did not open.
The fire engine took about three minutes to reverse and move forward two to three times before the gantry opened for it.
Meanwhile, the other two fire engines were diverted to another carpark entrance.
Thankfully, the stallholders managed to contain the fire just as the firefighters arrived, and there were no serious casualties.
This incident shows that the current system needs some rethinking.
Perhaps the authorities could come up with a system that allows emergency vehicles to activate a dedicated near-field communication (NFC) reader to allow them to pass through carpark gantries without hindrance.
This reader could be activated at a distance of, say, 20m, so that the vehicle does not need to stop.
It could also be extended to other systems, such as traffic lights, so as to reduce barriers to emergency responders.
Precious time could be saved if emergency vehicles are not encumbered by things such as carpark gantries.
B. Nathish Vel