The Straits Times
Published on Feb 19, 2013

MRT fire: Beef up safety measures, evacuation plans


THE recent fire along the train tracks near Newton MRT station is a good opportunity for the authorities to plan future evacuation and life-saving strategies ("Short circuit sparks fire in MRT tunnel"; last Thursday).

In public areas with a critical mass of human traffic, such as shopping malls, MRT stations and schools, smoke and toxic gases from burning cables can cause panic, confusion and hysteria, and may lead to stampedes as people rush for the exits.

The Building and Construction Authority and the Singapore Civil Defence Force must work with the Land Transport Authority and the train operators to implement proper guidelines on fire prevention, as well as conduct fire drills to familiarise the public with the dos and don'ts if a fire breaks out.

Fire drills are not uncommon in big commercial buildings and clubs, and SMRT and SBS Transit should conduct similar exercises.

Posters in the four official languages on what to do during a fire should be put up in prominent areas in train stations and bus interchanges, and also inside trains and buses.

Testing bodies such as Singapore-based laboratory TUV SUD PSB should introduce more stringent specifications and requirements for electric cables.

When it comes to saving lives and preventing injuries, there is no room for compromise or complacency.

The public has the right to demand zero tolerance for any mishaps.

Cheng Choon Fei