Fewer fires in first four months this year compared to 2016, but battery fires on the rise

The SCDF have said that while there has been a 15 per cent drop in the number of fires in the first four months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, there has been a rise in battery fires. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE- The number of fires reported from January to April this year was 15 per cent lower compared to the same period in 2016, but there were more cases of battery fires, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

There were a total of 1,275 fires reported in the first four months of this year, down from 1,502 last year. Thirteen cases were fires involving rechargeable batteries, such as from electric bicycles. This was up from eight such fires last year.

With the popularity of electric bicycles, personal mobility devices and power banks in Singapore, there is a need for the public to be aware of preventive steps.

"Battery fires can be caused by faulty electrical circuitry that may lead to short-circuiting of the batteries. The high current drawn by faulty electrical circuitry can generate sufficient heat to ignite the devices or materials in close proximity to the devices," said SCDF in a statement.

As a precaution, one should avoid overcharging the battery and never leave them to charge overnight, added SCDF. "Some models also do not have a power cut-off function to prevent overcharging which could lead to a fire."

Meanwhile, rubbish chute fires contributed to the 935 residential fires this year. One such incident took place in February, where a housewife and her young son spotted smoke emerging from a chute along their corridor at their block in Punggol. They poured four pails of water down the chute before calling 995.

To prevent rubbish chute fires, completely extinguish lighted materials before disposing of them into rubbish chutes or bins, and do not throw flammable substances, such as paint or oil, into chutes or bins, advised SCDF.

Members of the public who spot fire hazards can report them to the SCDF by calling 1800-280- 0000, or by e-mailing SCDF_Fire_Safety_Feedback@scdf.gov.sg.

In addition to that, the public can also submit photographs and a brief description of the fire hazards using the "mySCDF" mobile phone application, which can be downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play store.

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