Firefighter dad inspires sons to join Home Team

Senior Warrant Officer 1 Khairudin Mohamed Ali with his sons (from left) Khairul Azhar Khairudin, Khairul Anwar Khairudin, Khairul Ariffin Khairudin (in his Police Coast Guard uniform for in-camp training) and Muhammad Khairi Khairudin at Woodlands F
Senior Warrant Officer 1 Khairudin Mohamed Ali with his sons (from left) Khairul Azhar Khairudin, Khairul Anwar Khairudin, Khairul Ariffin Khairudin (in his Police Coast Guard uniform for in-camp training) and Muhammad Khairi Khairudin at Woodlands Fire Station. Mr Ariffin plans to join his father and brothers in the Home Team soon.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

The father-son relationships in two families extend beyond the confines of home and into their jobs in the Home Team. The Straits Times finds out how they inspire one another at home and at work.

For Staff Sergeant Muhammad Khairi Khairudin, following in his father's footsteps by joining the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) allowed him to have a better appreciation of his father's job.

Staff Sgt Khairi, 28, a fire and rescue specialist section commander at Ang Mo Kio Fire Station and the oldest of four sons, said: "To be in this job, you must have a strong heart and mind."

He now understands the responsibility that his father, Senior Warrant Officer 1 (SWO1) Khairudin Mohamed Ali, had as a deputy rota commander in Woodlands Fire Station for 26 years. Though his father had a lot of work stress, he kept it out of their home life and never took it out on the family.

Staff Sgt Khairi, who has always been curious about his father's job, joined the SCDF after he graduated from polytechnic.

One could say firefighting is a family affair as SWO1 Khairudin himself became a firefighter because of his late father.

SWO1 Khairudin, 54, now a senior instructor in the advanced fire fighting branch of the Civil Defence Academy, grew up in the living quarters of Geylang Fire Station, where his father was a firefighter in the then Singapore Fire Brigade.

As a child, he watched the firefighters train and heard sirens every day. After completing his national service with the Singapore Armed Forces, he signed on with the SCDF as a firefighter and has been with the force for 35 years.

Now three of his four sons are also serving the country in the uniformed forces, with the youngest hoping to join in soon.

The third son, Sergeant 1 Khairul Azhar Khairudin, 24, was also inspired by his father to join the SCDF. The emergency medical technician at Yishun Fire Station said: "Hearing my dad's stories made me think that firefighting is a job that demands courage and not something everyone can do."

 

The second son, Sergeant 2 Khairul Anwar Khairudin, 27, is part of the Woodlands Checkpoint team under the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

Youngest son Khairul Ariffin Khairudin, 23, works as a PSA marine assistant, operating pilot boats. He plans to sign on as a regular in the Police Coast Guard and join his brothers in the Home Team.

When SWO1 Khairudin is in uniform, he maintains a strictly professional relationship with his sons, merely exchanging handshakes when they cross paths at the fire stations or at the academy.

The four sons still live at home where, said Staff Sgt Khairi, his father is "really a dad", watching television with them and, even at their age, messaging them if they are not home by 10.30pm.

Sgt Anwar said he has fond memories of fire station visits and SCDF family days. He appreciates his father's hard work in supporting the family, which includes his two sisters, aged 30 and 20, who are pursuing their studies. Their mother is a housewife.

Mr Ariffin said, tearing up: "My father has always worked hard to give me what I want." His message to his dad? "I promise to make you proud... You are the best."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2019, with the headline 'Firefighter dad inspires sons to join Home Team'. Print Edition | Subscribe