PMD-related and vegetation fires fuel increase in fire incidents last year

A sharp increase was recorded in the number of fires involving personal mobility devices last year. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Firefighters responded to more fire-related calls last year, sparked by a jump in vegetation fires and personal mobility devices (PMD) catching fire.

Statistics released by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on Wednesday (Feb 12) showed that the SCDF responded to a total of 2,862 fire-related calls last year, up 7.8 per cent from the year before.

This number excludes the number of fires involving rubbish and rubbish chutes, which the SCDF said poses a "very low risk" relative to other fires.

Most of the fires last year were due to the indiscriminate disposal of lighted materials, like cigarette butts or charcoal embers, which account for more than one in three fires.

Electrical origin was the second most common cause of fires, resulting in about 23 per cent of all fires last year.

Vegetation fires saw the highest rise last year, with numbers jumping by 50.2 per cent from the year before, to 883 cases last year.

"This was largely due to the sustained dry weather between January and March 2019, as well as between July and September 2019," said the SCDF in its statement.

To address this, the agency will continue to work with the Wildfire Task Force, which has been stepping up preventive measures, such as trimming overgrown vegetation at high-risk areas.

"Patrols at fire hot spots will also be increased during dry periods to detect possible fire risks and promptly attend to any fire occurrences," said the SCDF.

PMD-related fires are another area of concern, said the SCDF, with more injuries resulting from more of such fires.

There were 102 PMD-related fires last year, close to double the previous year's number, and 46 people were injured from these fires and fires involving power-assisted bicycles, including one fatality.

SCDF presenting the past year's figures and statistics to the media at the SCDF HQ, on Feb 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

This is about 30 per cent of the total number of 142 injury cases and one fatality resulting from fires last year.

About half of the those injured suffered from smoke inhalation, and the other half from burns.

The SCDF urged owners of non-UL2272 certified devices to dispose of them at designated disposal points.

It added that it will continue to highlight the fire safety risks associated with PMDs and power-assisted bicycles.

Fires in residences fell by 5.4 per cent from the year before to 1,168. Unattended cooking, discarded items and household contents figured most highly in such fires.

Fires in open areas such as in vegetation or vehicles spiked by around 30 per cent to 1,198, while fires in non-residential premises went up by 0.2 per cent to 496.

Paramedics also responded to more calls last year, with an increase in both emergency and non-emergency calls to the 995 hotline.

Of the 191,468 calls for emergency medical services, 9.2 per cent, or 17,626 calls, were non-emergencies or false alarms.

This constitutes around 48 non-emergency or false alarm calls every day.

SCDF said it will continue its efforts to raise public awareness of the differences between emergency and non-emergency cases.

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