Review decision to decommission pump wells

It is sad that a precious life was lost when the celebration of Corporal Kok Yuen Chin's impending operationally ready date with his squad mates went terribly wrong.

However the decision by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) to decommission all the pump wells located at fire stations is unwarranted (SCDF to close pump wells at stations after NSF's drowning; Sept 14).

I agree with former SCDF deputy commissioner Tan Jin Thong's opinion that this is a bit of an overreaction. In this incident, the problem was not the pump well, but rather the officers involved.

The pump well and sliding poles are standard features of a fire station.

A fire engine's pump normally draws water from a hydrant to fight a fire. But, if there is no hydrant near the site of a fire, the fire engine may need to draw water from an open source such as a pool, rivers, reservoirs or even the sea.

For this, the pump's priming system must first be able to create a sufficient vacuum for it to suck water from a depth of 3m.

A pump well is used to test the fire engines' pumping capability at a fire station.

It is not practical for firemen to drive the fire engines all the way to the Civil Defence Academy in Jalan Bahar to test the pumps.

The measures to eradicate ragging and installing metal grating over the openings of these wells to prevent unauthorised access would be adequate to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

I hope the SCDF will reconsider decommissioning the pump wells at all the fire stations.

Tan Keng Hai

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.