All residential buildings designed for safe evacuation

We thank Mr Richard Chien-Ming Kuppusamy for his feedback (Improve HDB building regulations to protect people with disabilities; March 27).

All Housing Board and private residential buildings meet fire code requirements. These ensure the safe evacuation of occupants in the event of a fire.

The regulations make no distinction between HDB blocks and private residential buildings.

Contrary to Mr Kuppusamy's statement, all HDB blocks over 24m high (about 10 storeys) have fire lifts to facilitate firefighting and rescue operations.

Since July 2013, residential buildings over 40 storeyshigh have been required to have not one, but two fire lifts.

Also, a designated refuge floor at 20-storey intervals has been a requirement for such buildings since April 2006.

The holding area on a refuge floor is a designated space for temporary assembly of occupants during a fire emergency. Occupants can wait there until they are evacuated by firefighters or instructed to return home when it is safe to do so.

Other fire code requirements include designing units to be fire compartments, typically using fire-resistant walls and floors.

These help to protect occupants from the spread of fire, thereby giving them enough time to evacuate safely.

Fire escape routes must also be designed for effective smoke ventilation.

In addition, from June 1 this year, all new residential units and those undergoing fire safety works will be required to install home fire alarm devices that will provide occupants with early warning.

Everyone has a part to play in fire safety. Residents have to keep fire escape routes clear of fire hazards and obstructions, to enable smooth evacuation in an emergency.

Members of the public should report any potential fire hazards to the SCDF by calling 1800-280-0000, e-mailing SCDF_Fire_Safety_Feedback @scdf.gov.sg or via the "mySCDF" mobile application.

Leslie Williams (Lieutenant-Colonel)
Senior Assistant Director (Public Affairs Department)
Singapore Civil Defence Force

Tan Hwee Yong (Ms)
Director (Project Development and Management)
Housing & Development Board

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2018, with the headline 'All residential buildings designed for safe evacuation'. Print Edition | Subscribe