Going up in flames: Are Singapore's oldest buildings fire safe?

Above: The Arts House, built between 1826 and 1827 as a residence but used as a chamber and courthouse, is likely the oldest standing building in Singapore. Below: The repository at the National Heritage Board's Heritage Conservation Centre, which ho
Above: The Arts House, built between 1826 and 1827 as a residence but used as a chamber and courthouse, is likely the oldest standing building in Singapore. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
The repository at the National Heritage Board's Heritage Conservation Centre, which houses more than 150,000 artefacts from the National Collection.
Above: The repository at the National Heritage Board's Heritage Conservation Centre, which houses more than 150,000 artefacts from the National Collection.ST FILE PHOTO
Indonesian policemen standing guard as firefighters worked to control a blaze at the Samudra Bhakti temple in Bandung on the first day of Chinese New Year on Feb 5. The fire was allegedly caused by lit prayer candles inside the temple that had been b
Indonesian policemen standing guard as firefighters worked to control a blaze at the Samudra Bhakti temple in Bandung on the first day of Chinese New Year on Feb 5. The fire was allegedly caused by lit prayer candles inside the temple that had been blown by strong winds.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The front hall, prayer altar and 30 statuettes of the 80-year-old Poh Ann Keng Taoist temple in Tampines were badly damaged in a fire on Feb 9. The damage caused was estimated to be between $300,000 and $400,000.
The front hall, prayer altar and 30 statuettes of the 80-year-old Poh Ann Keng Taoist temple in Tampines were badly damaged in a fire on Feb 9. The damage caused was estimated to be between $300,000 and $400,000.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS
Policemen watching as a massive fire engulfed the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, one of Brazil's oldest buildings, on Sept 2 last year. The 200-year-old institution was considered the main natural history museum in Latin America.
Policemen watching as a massive fire engulfed the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, one of Brazil's oldest buildings, on Sept 2 last year. The 200-year-old institution was considered the main natural history museum in Latin America. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Authorities say all buildings have to undergo regular checks, comply with safety code

The Arts House, built between 1826 and 1827 as a residence but used as a chamber and courthouse, is likely the oldest standing building in the country.

Singapore's old monoliths, many of which are national monuments, also include temples and churches where incense and tea light candles are burned almost daily.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2019, with the headline 'Going up in flames: Are S'pore's oldest buildings fire safe?'. Print Edition | Subscribe