Parliament: Auxiliary police officers and retired cops may be tapped to conduct fire inspections for SCDF

SCDF officers conducting a fire safety check in a shopping centre. A change proposed in the Fire Safety (Amendment) Bill in Parliament on July 8, 2019, was to allow retired officers from the SCDF and Singapore Police, as well as active auxiliary poli
SCDF officers conducting a fire safety check in a shopping centre. A change proposed in the Fire Safety (Amendment) Bill in Parliament on July 8, 2019, was to allow retired officers from the SCDF and Singapore Police, as well as active auxiliary police officers and public servants, to conduct routine fire safety inspections. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Retired officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the Singapore Police Force, as well as currently serving auxiliary police officers and public servants, may be authorised to conduct routine fire safety inspections and enforcement in future.

The move will allow SCDF to free up its resources and focus on higher risk areas.

This was one of the key changes proposed in the Fire Safety (Amendment) Bill that was tabled in Parliament on Monday (July 8).

According to figures provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the SCDF conducts about 10,000 inspections annually, which include scheduled inspections as well as ad hoc inspections, which are based on public feedback.

The authorised third parties would ease about half of the roughly 4,500 ad hoc inspections that the SCDF conducts yearly.

The scope of inspection and enforcement for these third-party officers would be limited to straightforward non-compliance cases and minor offences, such as obstructions along escape routes.

In addition, only officers with relevant experience will be selected for such roles, and the SCDF will manage the training and evaluation of these officers.

When carrying out inspections, these officers will be required to wear body-worn cameras. The SCDF will also conduct random audits on their operations as a safeguard.

 

Separately, the Bill also proposes a licensing regime for third-party fire alarm operators, which are private companies.

These operators currently act as an additional layer of checks and safeguards between the SCDF and high-risk buildings, which are required to connect their electrical fire alarm systems to the SCDF Operations Centre.

When a fire alarm at these buildings is activated, these operators are required to verify the alarm before notifying the SCDF, which will then dispatch resources to the location.

The proposed licensing regime would create offences for serious non-compliance cases such as the failure to verify fire alarms, and impose fees for unverified calls by these operators to the SCDF.