Harsher penalties for those who cause fire hazards, stricter enforcement to kick in on Sept 14

A woman in her 60s was rescued from the 13th-floor unit of Block 210A Bukit Batok Street 21 on Nov 1, 2019.
A woman in her 60s was rescued from the 13th-floor unit of Block 210A Bukit Batok Street 21 on Nov 1, 2019.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO READER
A firefighting vehicle could not access the estate when a fire broke out at The Peak@Toa Payoh last month.
A firefighting vehicle could not access the estate when a fire broke out at The Peak@Toa Payoh last month.PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO, SCDF/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Starting next Monday (Sept 14), the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) can immediately prosecute those who create serious fire safety risks, such as obstructing fire escape routes, as amendments to the Fire Safety Act come into effect.

The Act, which was passed in Parliament last year, spells out stronger regulatory and enforcement power for the SCDF in ensuring fire safety and introduces new offences to stop the use of non-compliant fire safety products.

Among the key changes are enhanced penalties for irresponsible industry professionals who fail to properly supervise and certify fire safety works.

The SCDF will also be empowered to mandate building owners to improve their fire safety features, such as by installing fire alarm systems and fire hose reels.

"SCDF will adopt a judicious, risk-based approach in identifying buildings for fire safety upgrades, and will work closely with the building owners to enhance the fire safety of their buildings," said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement on Friday (Sept 11).

The need for stricter fire safety regulations was highlighted in the past year, with firefighters discovering faulty fire safety equipment while responding to fire incidents.

In one incident last November, firemen attending to a fire in a Bukit Batok HDB flat found that hose reel cabinets had been padlocked and that hose reels were dry. A 60-year-old woman who was rescued from the fire later died in the hospital.

The Jurong-Clementi Town Council was subsequently served Fire Hazard Abatement Notices for not complying with fire safety requirements.

Last month, firefighters discovered a faulty wet riser in a Toa Payoh Housing board block while responding to a fire there. Investigations are still ongoing.


A total of 300 people were evacuated after a fire broke out at The Peak in Toa Payoh on Aug 29, 2020. 
PHOTO: SCDF/FACEBOOK

 
 

SCDF can currently take prosecutorial action only when the errant parties who cause fire safety risks fail to comply with their notices, said MHA.

However, with the new amendments to the Fire Safety Act, the SCDF can take immediate prosecutorial action.

The SCDF will soon be able to demand that all non-compliant fire safety products be removed, disposed, or recalled. It will also be illegal for anyone to supply or install such products, with the SCDF able to take action against any party in the supply chain.

In the release, the MHA also announced that emergency preparedness measures must be put in place at buildings being used as hospitals, nursing homes, disability homes and worker dormitories.

The SCDF will be empowered to specify what type of Company Emergency Response Team (Cert) and fire safety equipment are required at the different premises.