Dorm deaths ruled 'a misadventure'

'Daisy-chaining' of portable socket outlets said to have sparked Geylang fire

Two Bangladeshi workers were killed when a fire broke out in an improvised dormitory in Lorong 6 Geylang on April 3 this year.
Two Bangladeshi workers were killed when a fire broke out in an improvised dormitory in Lorong 6 Geylang on April 3 this year.ST FILE PHOTO

The practice of daisy-chaining by connecting portable socket outlets to similar outlets sparked a fire in an improvised dormitory in Geylang, killing two Bangladeshi workers.

Delivering his findings yesterday, State Coroner Marvin Bay said the deaths of Mr Mamun Abdullah All, 20, and Mr Hosen Ali, 22, from smoke inhalation were "tragic misadventures''.

The duo were in the room next to the one that had caught fire. Mr Mamun was found lying face up on the floor, while Mr Hosen was lying on the lower deck of a double-decker bed on April 3 this year.

The fire followed an earlier one last December in another improvised dormitory in Lorong 4 Geylang , which killed four men.

Coroner Bay said it underscores yet again the dangers faced by workers when they are put up in such premises by contractors.

He said workers who are tempted to take up such accommodation should know that these improvised dormitories may be illicitly and hastily set up, without getting proper approval or due consideration of necessary and prudent safety measures that should be taken in the event of a fire.

In the case of the fire in April, the court heard that the premises on the second storey of the four-storey building in Lorong 6 Geylang had 12 rooms with at least 34 occupants.

The workers were asleep when they heard shouts of "fire". Three were injured .

Major Andy Choo, a Singapore Civil Defence Force fire investigator, stated in his report that the fire started from the area between a metal drawer and the lower deck of a double-decker bed in Room 8.

He found burnt remnants of a portable socket outlet, which was suspected to have been energised at the time of the fire, and remnants of electrical devices and appliances.

Noting that daisy-chaining was widely practised in the premises, he felt that the pervasive use of multi-way adaptors posed a real risk of an electrical short circuit.

Heat from energised wirings and connections at the portable socket outlets was believed to be the ignition source.

The two men were sleeping in their room when they were overcome by smoke and combustion gases which entered through the gaps between the partition walls.

The court heard that Bangladeshi national Jahir Raihan Billal Hossain, who reportedly collected rentals of $250 to $300 from workers living there, left Singapore on the day of the fire and could not be contacted by investigators.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2015, with the headline 'Dorm deaths ruled 'a misadventure''. Subscribe