Contractor summoned for erecting tent that delayed SCDF access to Henderson fire which killed NSF

The tent was put up on the evening of Dec 7. The fire at Block 91 Henderson Road in Bukit Merah occurred in the morning of Dec 8. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE – The contractor that erected a wake tent on a service road and delayed Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) access to a fire in Henderson Road by 18 minutes has been issued a summons by the town council in charge of the area.

Full-time national serviceman (NSF) Edward H. Go, 19, died while battling the blaze in a rental flat in December 2022.

In response to queries by The Straits Times, the Tanjong Pagar Town Council said it is against town council by-laws to erect tents at fire access points. A permit is required to hold a wake and build a tent at a void deck.

The town council said: “There are signs on-site to inform the public to keep service roads free of obstruction.”

While its officers conduct regular inspections on the ground, the town council said the tent was put up on the evening of Dec 7 and the fire at Block 91 Henderson Road in Bukit Merah occurred on the morning of Dec 8.

“The town council has issued a summons to the tentage contractor for obstructing the service road,” it said, declining to give more details.

In response to questions filed in Parliament by Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) and Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) on Monday, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said that because the tent was on the service road, SCDF officers had to remove bollards that were padlocked to the ground to create an access path.

This led to the delay of 18 minutes, he added.

However, Dr Faishal said it would be premature to discuss the factors which contributed to Sergeant (1) Go’s death, and that an independent probe is currently being conducted by the police into the circumstances of his death. The coroner will be informed of the findings.

Dr Faishal added that further details could not be shared because investigations are ongoing.

Sgt (1) Go attained a gold standard in his Individual Physical Proficiency Test and an A grade in his Breathing Apparatus Proficiency Test – both of which are tests that all NSFs must go through before they can be deployed as firefighters.

Sgt (1) Go, who was the first person from the SCDF to have died during an operation, also fared well in other mandatory course requirements and attended to nearly 60 fire and rescue calls after he was posted to the Central Fire Station in May 2022.

He was also certified medically fit before his enlistment and categorised under the physical employment standard (PES) as PES A. Servicemen in this category are considered suitable for front-line operational vocations such as firefighting.

It was previously reported that he fell unconscious in the kitchen area of the flat while fighting the fire there. He was taken out of the unit by crew members, who tried to resuscitate him. Sgt (1) Go was later taken to Singapore General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Full-time national serviceman Sergeant (1) Edward Go died while battling the blaze in a rental flat in Dec 2022. PHOTO: ST FILE

The NSF enlisted in the SCDF on Jan 5, 2022, and had aspirations to enrol in medical school upon completing his national service. After enlisting, he trained as a firefighter for 12 weeks, from Feb 3 to April 28. He was posted to the Central Fire Station on May 4.

He was part of the first response crew for the blaze on Dec 8, 2022, SCDF said previously.

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