System needed to ensure all blocks meet emergency requirements

I am disappointed with the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF's) response (HDB blocks have to meet fire code standards existing at time of building; Oct 1) to my letter (Not all blocks have emergency lights; Sept 21).

SCDF did not answer several of the questions I raised.

The SCDF said that it had done enforcement checks following my feedback and that it had instructed the Tampines Town Council to replace faulty emergency lights.

However, nothing had been replaced when I checked last Friday.

The letter had also stated that older Housing Board blocks are required to comply with the latest fire code requirements when they undergo major upgrading works.

However, some blocks in Tampines which have had their lifts upgraded and have gone through the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) do not have emergency lights in all staircases.

Some point blocks in Bedok that I checked, which I am sure have also undergone upgrading, also did not have any emergency lights fitted.

There are many HDB blocks in Tampines, Pasir Ris and Simei that were built in the late 1990s and early 2000s which are not fitted with emergency lights.

These buildings have to wait till at least 2026 before they become eligible for HIP. Don't they require emergency lights till then?

I visited a block in Queenstown and found that, at every level, the exit door had an illuminated exit sign above it with the provision for battery operation in the event of a power failure.

New blocks in Tampines do not have this feature.

Who is responsible for this non-compliance with requirements, and what action is being taken against them?

There should be a system in place to check that all the requirements are being met.

After the block I live in had a power failure and most of the emergency lights did not function, the town council replaced only a handful.

Emergency lights are required to function for one hour during a blackout.

Can the SCDF verify that the emergency lights not replaced will stay lighted for this minimum period?

Thomas Reginald Vernon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2018, with the headline 'System needed to ensure all blocks meet emergency requirements'. Print Edition | Subscribe