Off-duty SCDF officer puts out fire in Toa Payoh flat sparked by charging PMD

Preliminary investigations found that the fire originated from the battery pack of the personal mobility device which was being charged.
Preliminary investigations found that the fire originated from the battery pack of the personal mobility device which was being charged.ST PHOTO: LEE JIA WEN
Preliminary investigations found that the fire originated from the battery pack of the personal mobility device which was being charged.
Preliminary investigations found that the fire originated from the battery pack of the personal mobility device which was being charged.ST PHOTO: LEE JIA WEN
Preliminary investigations found that the fire originated from the battery pack of the personal mobility device which was being charged.
Preliminary investigations found that the fire originated from the battery pack of the personal mobility device which was being charged.ST PHOTO: LEE JIA WEN

SINGAPORE - An off-duty Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer spotted a fire at a flat in Toa Payoh on Wednesday (Feb 28) and helped put out the flames.

The incident occurred at a flat on the first floor of Block 103, Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, at about 3.20pm, SCDF said in a Facebook post.

Staff Sergeant Yahafiz Mustafa, who is from Tuas View Fire Station, saw the fire while passing by.

He grabbed a fire extinguisher, kicked the door to the unit open and put out the fire, which involved a personal mobility device (PMD), believed to be a mobility scooter.

Other SCDF officers arrived and rescued a man in his 40s from the flat.

He was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for smoke inhalation. There were no other reported injuries.

Photos of the scene show charred tiles and the remains of what appears to be the seat of a mobility scooter.

Preliminary investigations found that the fire originated from the battery pack of the PMD which was being charged.

SCDF said in its annual statistics report, released earlier this month, that most electric scooters, electric bicycles and other PMDs use lithium ion batteries, which have high energy density and flammable internal materials.

Battery fires can be caused by faulty electrical circuitry that may lead to short-circuiting of the batteries, SCDF said.

It added that rechargeable batteries that are left charging over a long period of time would lead to overcharging. This could cause permanent damage to the batteries and result in battery swelling. Such batteries could also fail from excessive impact.

"All these could trigger a fire which can spread very quickly and result in serious damage to property and loss of lives," SCDF said.

There were 49 cases of fire incidents last year that involved electric scooters, electric bicycles and other PMDs, up from 31 in 2016.

Electric scooters were involved in 40 of the cases last year.

The categorisation did not specify fires involving mobility scooters.

SCDF gave the following recommendations on how to prevent PMD fires.

- Avoid overcharging the battery, especially leaving it to charge overnight.

- When charging such batteries, place them on hard flat surfaces to allow optimal dissipation of heat.

- Do not place the charging battery near combustible materials.