SINGAPORE - A 17-hour firefighting operation at the CK Building last month turned out to be the biggest blaze that one of the first officers on the scene saw in 14 years.
Recalling the fire, which spread from the fourth floor, Warrant Officer Mohamad Mahathir Ghazali, 34, said: "It was dark, it was hot... I didn't know if I would come back out (of the building).
"When I saw it, I knew it was of a different scale."
The Singapore Civil Defence Force officer was among the first to enter the building with three National Servicemen. When they emerged half an hour later, they realised the flames had spread to two more floors.
It eventually took 120 officers, many who worked tirelessly overnight, to put out the inferno.
Mr Mahathir was among the officers who received awards at this year's Minister's Award Presentation Ceremony, in which 175 awards were given out to more than 300 officers on Wednesday (Sept 28).
These are the Home Team Achievement Awards, Minister for Home Affairs Operational Excellence Awards and Star Service Awards.
The ceremony at the Home Team Academy recognised outstanding officers, teams and agencies who have achieved exceptional operational outcomes or worked efficiently in major cases.
At the event, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam lauded several officers' good work, including those from the Central Narcotics Bureau who worked with the Royal Malaysian Police to cripple a transnational drug smuggling syndicate and the Integrated Checkpoints Command, which implemented forward security checks for cars arriving before the Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints.
"That has considerably strengthened our land checkpoints," said Mr Shanmugam, adding that this is critical because Singapore has more than 400,000 travellers passing through daily both ways.
Other award winners include the SCDF-led Exercise Northstar 9 in May last year, which tested officers' abilities to manage contingencies during major events and to respond to a planned terror attack. It received a Home Team Achievement Award.
A body worn camera project by the police to record officers' surroundings and interactions while on patrol or handling incidents also received an Operational Excellence Award.