Faulty hose reels at Bukit Batok HDB block in working condition 2 weeks before high-rise fire: Town council

A fire broke out on Nov 1 at around 4.30am at a 13th-floor unit of Block 210A Bukit Batok Street 21. The SCDF had been unable to use the hose reel and extinguished the blaze with water from its emergency vehicles.
A fire broke out on Nov 1 at around 4.30am at a 13th-floor unit of Block 210A Bukit Batok Street 21. The SCDF had been unable to use the hose reel and extinguished the blaze with water from its emergency vehicles.PHOTO: JAMES SANGILI

SINGAPORE - Following a warning by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) to Jurong-Clementi Town Council after firefighters could not use hose reels in a Housing Board block during a fire, the town council explained on Wednesday (Nov 13) that the reels had been working two weeks earlier.

The SCDF said in a statement last Friday that during the Nov 1 fire, its officers found that the hose reels cabinets at Block 210A Bukit Batok Street 21 were padlocked. After breaking one of the padlocks, firefighters found there was no water supply for the hose reel.

The fire had set a 13th-floor unit in the HDB block ablaze. A 60m ladder was used to rescue a man in his 60s and another man in his 30s from the ledge outside the flat's kitchen window.

The blaze was extinguished using water from the SCDF's emergency vehicles.

Three people were taken to the Singapore General Hospital for burn injuries and smoke inhalation. The Straits Times understands that one of them, a woman, is in intensive care, while one man is in stable condition in the general ward. The third person, another man, has been discharged.

On Wednesday, Mr Ho Thian Poh, Jurong-Clementi Town Council's general manager, told The Straits Times that there are 64 hose reels at the block.

"They last underwent maintenance and testing by the appointed contractor on Oct 14, and (were) certified to be in working condition," he said.

"However, we accept the SCDF's finding that the hose in question was not working on the day of the fire. We have been investigating why this was so, and will take appropriate actions once (the investigations are) concluded."

After the fire was put out on Nov 1, the SCDF inspected the block's fire hose reels with representatives from the town council. The town council was issued with Fire Hazard Abatement Notices under the SCDF's framework for dealing with failure to comply with fire safety requirements.

The notices are warnings that require town councils to fix non-compliance issues.

 
 

Should the SCDF detect non-compliance issues of the same nature during a re-inspection, the town council would receive a notice of a composition fine of up to $5,000 or prosecution.

During various re-inspections of the affected hose reels at Block 210A over the course of the week of the fire, the SCDF verified that the fire hose reels at the block were accessible and in working order.

It said that town councils are responsible for the maintenance and proper functioning of fire safety measures in their estates.

"SCDF takes a serious view of fire safety and will not hesitate to take action against any non-compliance with fire safety requirements," it added in last Friday's statement.