PEOPLE

Inspiration to us all: He risked his life to save others in blaze

Football coach Faizaltulamri Noorali saved five people and a cat from a fire at an HDB block in Choa Chu Kang last year.
Football coach Faizaltulamri Noorali saved five people and a cat from a fire at an HDB block in Choa Chu Kang last year.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

When a Choa Chu Kang Housing Board flat burst into flames and terrified residents fled en masse, one man ran in the opposite direction.

On discovering the February 2014 fire, football coach Faizaltulamri Noorali immediately ran from door to door to warn his neighbours. Racing up and down several flights of stairs, the 34-year-old saved two elderly women, two maids and a little girl. He even rescued a cat.

When The Straits Times caught up with him more than a year later, he downplayed his deeds. "I was just doing something a normal human being would do," he said.

 
 

That morning, he had spotted smoke coming out of an eighth-storey unit. The heat made him hesitate, but the thought of somebody being trapped inside spurred him to break a window pane. Recalling the thick black smoke that billowed out over him, he said: "I had to squat down to avoid the smoke. I almost lost consciousness then."

Despite inhaling some of the smoke, Mr Faizaltulamri went on to rescue others, including a 63-year-old housewife on the 14th storey. As she refused to leave without her cat, he had to search her flat and catch the feline.

On the 11th storey, he found a 76-year-old woman lying in the corridor, with her maid crying helplessly next to her . He carried the elderly woman down and, despite his fatigue, went back upstairs, returning with a five-year- old asthmatic girl in his arms.

His acts have got him recognised by strangers, not just in Choa Chu Kang but also in the new restaurant he is helping his friend manage, and even on one occasion by Singaporean tourists in Batam.

Mr Faizaltulamri said, however, that he did not always cut such a gallant figure. A rebellious youngster, he was even involved in a secret society at one point.

He said: "In the past, I didn't think about other people. If this had happened 10 years ago, I would have been one of those bystanders taking a selfie with the fire in the background."

His outlook changed after he met his girlfriend of 11 years, Ms Faizureen Ashiqkeen. "She's my real inspiration," he said.

The 32-year-old educator was not amused by her fiance's heroics, though. Mr Faizaltulamri said she broke down on learning how he had risked his life.

The couple are getting married next month, and plan to move into a new flat five minutes away from Mr Faizaltulamri's family.

Their first step on setting up house? "Get fire insurance," quipped Mr Faizaltulamri.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2015, with the headline 'He risked his life to save others in blaze'. Print Edition | Subscribe