'Firefighting instinct kicked in', says Deliveroo rider who helped in fire at pre-school

(From left) West Coast GRC MP Rachel Ong, Deliveroo rider Haziq Taha and Deliveroo Singapore head of operations Jason Parke at the SCDF Community First Responder Award presentation on Aug 26, 2021.
(From left) West Coast GRC MP Rachel Ong, Deliveroo rider Haziq Taha and Deliveroo Singapore head of operations Jason Parke at the SCDF Community First Responder Award presentation on Aug 26, 2021.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE

SINGAPORE - Deliveroo rider Haziq Taha was making a food delivery in Pasir Panjang on Aug 10 at around 7pm when he spotted a fire raging at a pre-school.

The 24-year-old leapt off his motorcycle and rushed towards the Maple Bear pre-school in Pasir Panjang Road. Instinct kicked in, he said, as he had served as a firefighter during his national service.

"The scene was alarming as the fire was quite big and there was a lot of smoke," Mr Haziq said. "It was a pre-school and I was worried there were kids inside."

With the help of a few passers-by, Mr Haziq forced open the locked gates of the school, which is in a colonial-style bungalow, and entered the compound.

He said the first floor of the building was completely on fire, so he knew that he did not have an access point to check inside. But based on his observation, there was no one there.

"I had to take a step back for my own safety, too, because things were starting to explode," he said.

He alerted the police, then called his wife, Ms Nur Sarah Ahmad, 23, to tell her that he wanted to help out in the fire. The couple married in February.

Mr Haziq said: "My wife was pretty worried, actually, but she also encouraged me to do my part and told me not to get hurt."

He helped the residents living next door to evacuate, and told people in the growing crowd to keep a distance.

When firefighters from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) reached the scene, they made a forced entry into the pre-school to douse the flames, which were largely confined to the front portion of the premises. No injuries were reported.

After SCDF firefighters took control of the situation, Mr Haziq continued on his way to deliver the food to his customer - who was understanding despite the 20-minute delay, he said.

For his courage and assistance in putting out the fire, he was awarded a Community First Responder Award by the SCDF on Thursday evening (Aug 26).

Another man who had helped in the fire, Mr Conor Doheny, also received the award, but was not at the presentation.

Mr Haziq said he was happy to receive the award.

"I feel very honoured. This recognition means a lot to me. I am happy that I have a story to share in the future," said Mr Haziq, a former track rider who trained horses at the Singapore Turf Club. He who joined Deliveroo in mid-2019.

The food delivery company also rewarded Mr Haziq with $200 worth of Deliveroo credits and a pair of tickets to the Singapore Zoo.

He said: "My birthday is coming up next week, so it's a perfect gift that I received from Deliveroo, as I was planning on a trip to the zoo with my wife two weeks before."