Suggestions on fire-safety measures under study

The Fire Code requires the provision of appropriate fire-safety measures to allow occupants to safely and swiftly evacuate during a fire, prevent its spread, and facilitate firefighting operations (Key concern on fire safety not addressed by SCDF, HDB, by Mr Richard Chien-Ming Kuppusamy, July 12; and Install fire alarms in all HDB blocks, by Mr Chua Teng Phuan, July 14).

The code stipulates that the walls and floors of all residential units are to be constructed using fire-rated materials. This creates fire-resistant compartments, thus preventing fire spread.

Fire escape routes are designed for smoke ventilation, while rising mains and hose reels are provided to aid firefighting operations.

For high-rise fire incidents, the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) priority is on evacuating all residents on the fire floor and the two floors above it.

Residents on the other floors are advised to stay within their units with the windows and doors closed, unless and until otherwise instructed by police or civil defence officers on-site.

Fire lifts will be used by SCDF officers to facilitate the evacuation of residents with disabilities or those with mobility issues.

The SCDF recently mandated the installation of home fire alarm devices in all new residential units and those undergoing fire safety works.

This requirement applies to new projects whose building plans are submitted from June 1 this year.

The home fire alarm devices will give occupants early warning of a fire in their units, enabling faster evacuation.

The Housing Board (HDB) has installed such devices in all new developments completed from the second quarter of this year.

HDB residential buildings with integrated carparks and non-residential units, such as childcare centres or eateries, will be installed with the fire alarm systems where necessary.

We note Mr Kuppusamy's suggestions on having temporary places of refuge at each stairwell of a building and on installing special chairs which facilitate staircase descent. The SCDF and HDB are working with relevant stakeholders to study the feasibility of his suggestions.

Ensuring fire safety is a collective responsibility. During a fire incident, neighbours and community first responders can help bring fellow residents who require evacuation assistance to safety, ahead of the SCDF's arrival.

Leslie Williams (Lieutenant-Colonel)

Senior Assistant Director (Public Affairs Department)

Singapore Civil Defence Force

Tan Hwee Yong (Ms)

Director (Project Development & Management)

Housing & Development Board

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2018, with the headline 'Suggestions on fire-safety measures under study'. Print Edition | Subscribe