Month-long fire drill campaign in commercial, industrial buildings returns after 2-year halt due to Covid-19

Yishun Health's Cert simulating a rescue during a fire drill held at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on Sept 1, 2022. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE - A worker trying to retrieve supplies fainted after being overwhelmed by smoke from a fire that broke out in the supply room of a 10th-floor ward at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

A nurse who saw thick smoke billowing from the room alerted the ward to the fire and activated the fire alarm, prompting five members of Yishun Health's Company Emergency Response Team (Cert) to take action.

Using a fire extinguisher, they tried to contain the fire, which was caused by an electrical fault, before the arrival of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

About 550 people, including hospital staff, were evacuated.

This scenario was part of a simulation during the launch of the annual Mass Fire Evacuation Drill on Thursday.

After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Thursday's event marked the start of a month-long campaign organised by the National Fire and Emergency Preparedness Council in conjunction with SCDF to promote fire prevention and emergency preparedness.

Fire drills will be conducted in September at about 310 commercial and industrial buildings, involving more than 58,000 participants.

During Thursday's drill, horizontal evacuation was conducted first, with participants promptly evacuated to an adjacent ward on the same floor via a linkway. This is especially important in the context of hospitals, which may have patients with limited mobility.

Vertical evacuation was then carried out, with participants taking the stairs and lifts to gather at designated assembly areas.

Mr Muhammad Fariz Mohd Noor, one of the five Cert members involved in the drill, said the team undergoes monthly refresher courses and two drills a year to maintain operational readiness.

He said: "The Cert's responsibility is to respond to any emergency and contain the situation until help from the authorities arrives."

Yishun Health chief executive Chua Hong Choon said being prepared for emergencies and fires is important in maintaining "a safe and healing environment" for patients and staff.

He added: "We need to regularly test our campus response plan to evaluate our safety competencies and identify potential gaps. Conducting emergency drills ensures our safety procedures remain robust, and our staff are resilient and prepared to face any emergency situation."

In August 2019, a small fire broke out at Singapore General Hospital due to overheating of an electrical component inside a scanner. About 70 people were evacuated and no injuries were reported.

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