East Coast Rd blaze: Pit cover at hydrant was stuck, firefighters used water from fire engine, says SCDF

Firefighters had to use a hydrant that was about 100m from the affected units. PHOTO: ST READER

SINGAPORE – Firefighters at the scene of the East Coast Road fire on Monday night were initially unable to dislodge the pit cover of the nearest fire hydrant, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in a statement on Friday night.

As is standard procedure, firefighters proceeded to the next nearest hydrant to set up the water supply for firefighting operations.

SCDF issued the statement in response to videos circulating on social media platform TikTok that suggested its firefighters took 20 minutes to connect a water hose to a hydrant.

The agency said it was alerted to a fire at 12S East Coast Road at about 11.50pm on Monday, with a Light Fire Attack Vehicle (LFAV) arriving at the scene within six minutes.

Two terrace houses were already ablaze, and the fire was set to spread to another two houses.

A spokesman for the SCDF said: “The LFAV crew immediately proceeded to the nearest hydrant to set up the water supply, which would be needed to operate the LFAV’s water monitor.

“Meanwhile, a fire engine arrived at around 11.57pm, and firefighting operations soon commenced with two water jets drawing water from the fire engine’s internal tank.”

A fire engine carries sufficient water to immediately support firefighting operations for at least 10 minutes before replenishment is needed.

The spokesman said the pit cover of the nearest hydrant was stuck and attempts to dislodge it were unsuccessful.

“An assessment was then made to use the next nearest hydrant, which is standard procedure. Water supply from this hydrant, which was about 100m from the affected units, was established at about 12.06am,” the spokesman added.

“While a water supply hose from that hydrant was initially channelled to the LFAV’s water monitor, a decision was made to quickly redirect it to the fire engine’s water tank, which was necessary to ensure that there was no water disruption to the two water jets.”

Another two fire hydrants in the area were also used to support reinforcements, at which point the fire had spread to the other two terrace houses.

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Around 12.35am, firefighters managed to dislodge the pit cover of the first hydrant, which was then used in tandem with the three other hydrants.

SCDF said it used these hydrants and a combined platform ladder to conduct aerial firefighting, which helped limit the spread of the fire and minimise the damage to neighbouring units.

The fire was brought under control at about 12.40am, with the SCDF tapping six water jets to fully extinguish the flames.

Fifteen emergency vehicles and about 60 officers were deployed for the operation.

One of the video clips that circulated on TikTok showed water from a hose not being able to reach the blaze allegedly because of insufficient pressure.

However, national water agency PUB said on Wednesday it had conducted on-site checks on Tuesday and found that the fire hydrants in the vicinity of 12S East Coast Road were in working order.

The PUB said it conducts regular inspections and maintenance on all fire hydrants in Singapore, and the hydrants in East Coast Road were last inspected and serviced in March 2022.

It also said there was sufficient water pressure within its supply network to support SCDF operations at the location.

SCDF had also conducted its own checks on the hydrant previously, as part of its annual operational tests.

The last time this was done on the hydrant with the stuck pit cover was in December 2021, when it was found to have been in working condition.

The hydrant would have been tested again within this work year, by March 2023.

The fire started in a bedroom on the second floor of unit 12Q, where an elderly brother and sister lived. The woman was taken to hospital with a minor burn injury.

Meanwhile, about 20 other people were evacuated from nearby houses.

An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the blaze.

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