Around 350 people - 300 of them students sitting their exams - were evacuated from Singapore Polytechnic (SP) yesterday after a solar car model caught fire.
The school's emergency response team managed to put out the blaze at a teaching block although the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which got a call around 10.30am, sent two fire engines, two fire bikes and three ambulances to the scene.
The fire had been extinguished by the time they arrived. Three security guards were taken to the National University Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
The SCDF is investigating the cause of the fire.
Students who did not complete their exam papers will have to retake them next week.
SP said upcoming lessons and exams will not be affected.
Wesley See Toh, 20, was checking his practical navigation test paper when the alarm went off. He and his fellow third-year students were taking a nautical studies exam which started at 9am, but he managed to submit his paper before he left the exam room.
"Luckily everyone was quite calm," he said. "But I think the information about the fire should be passed on more quickly. The smoke was already very thick when I left the building, and there were still people taking exams inside. It was quite unsafe."
SP staff were among those evacuated. There have been three other fire incidents at the Dover Road school in the past three years - two at the food courts and one at a teaching block, though only one person was injured in them
An SP spokesman said: "The health and well-being of our staff and students are of top priority. SP is providing them with the necessary care and support."
SP has a detailed emergency response plan and holds regular training and fire drills, he said, adding: "We will step up education efforts such as working with SCDF to conduct more fire safety talks on prevention, management and responsibilities for staff, students and vendors."
Lim Yi Han