Security guards, fire safety managers to boost fight against terrorism

SINGAPORE - At least half of the 41,000 active security officers here should be equipped with counter terrorism skills over the next few years, said president of the Union of Security Employees Hareenderpal Singh on Tuesday (Jan 24).

They can be "additional eyes" on the ground, he told reporters on the sidelines of the first counter terrorism seminar for the security and fire safety industries.

"It is very important for the security industry to come together to support the SGSecure movement as security officers easily outnumber the police officers 3:1 today," he said.

Currently, only about 9,500 of the security officersare trained, with a majority deployed to protected places where such skills are mandatory.

However, he urged all security officers to undergo the training to prevent and detect terror attacks, as they are a "valuable asset" for the various agencies.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee called on the 300 participants present to keep pace with the changing tactics of terrorists by putting in place new detection and response procedures.

"Should a terrorist attack happen, many people will look to you for leadership and direction. Your emergency response training and first aid skills will help save lives," said Mr Lee.

Held at the Devan Nair Institute of Employment and Employability, the event was among a series of seminars organised by the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force under SGSecure.

Participants were also updated about the security situation and taught how to enhance the security of their premises.

Mr Benedict Koh, who heads the Fire Safety Managers' Association, told reporters it is also crucial to beef up existing arson prevention plans for buildings here, as this could be a possible way terrorists attack.

There are currently around 2,000 buildings here that are over 5,000 sq m big and require a fire safety manager.

"We have to work together with our security colleagues to ensure that we train employees and occupants of the building to be more observant in spotting any suspicious persons or discarded items," he said.

"The threat is real ... And every fire safety and security agency has to step up."