Rubbish chute a key source of home fires for Jan to Oct; PMD and e-bike fires jump 50%

MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol Sun Xueling went door-to-door to engage residents in her ward on fire safety and prevention as part of public education efforts on Dec 12.
MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol Sun Xueling went door-to-door to engage residents in her ward on fire safety and prevention as part of public education efforts on Dec 12.PHOTO: SCDF

SINGAPORE - Equipping residents with the proper fire safety and prevention skills is the best defence against fires that may break out in their homes, often in such places as the rubbish chute and kitchen.

As part of public education efforts, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol Sun Xueling went door-to-door on Wednesday (Dec 12) night to engage residents in her ward on fire safety and prevention.

In the first 10 months of this year, 2,008 fires broke out in residential premises across Singapore, with almost 50 per cent of them being rubbish chute fires.

As for the remaining incidents, they had to do with unattended cooking, discarded items and electrical items.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force also said on Wednesday that it responded to 57 fires involving personal mobility devices (PMDs) and power-assisted bicycles from January to October, a 50 per cent jump from the 38 fires in the same period last year.

And since the start of December, SCDF has already responded to 10 such fires.

For the whole of last year, there were 2,657 fire incidents in residential premises, according to SCDF statistics.

The number of such fires in 2016 was 2,818.

In the past three months, two fires broke out in Housing Board flats in Punggol West, which is under Ms Sun's ward.

While the fires did not result in any injuries, there was significant damage to the premises.

The first incident, on Sept 2, involved a PMD that caught fire in the living room.

A woman and a child managed to evacuate the unit safely. And the fire was put out by a member of public using a water hose-reel before the SCDF personnel arrived.

The second, which took place on Dec 3, happened while occupants of the unit were not at home.

Investigations showed that it started in a bedroom and was caused by lit joss sticks.

The fire resulted in 20 residents having to be evacuated from the block.

It was this need for public education efforts that prompted Ms Sun and various groups, including the SCDF and the Punggol West Community Emergency and Engagement Committee, to organise door-to-door visits so that they can distribute pamphlets with information on fire safety and safe evacuation.

While security agencies "stand ready" to rescue and take care of residents in times of need, emergencies can happen anytime, said Ms Sun, who is also Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development.

"Our best defence is if our residents also know the skills to respond, to extricate themselves from danger, take active steps to protect themselves and also alert their neighbours," she said.

Rubbish chute fires remain the most common type of fire in residential areas.

Besides handing out pamphlets last night, Ms Sun also highlighted to residents the steps of extinguishing a fire in the rubbish chute on their own by using, for example, a bucket of water.