Drop in residential fires over past 5 years; number of electrical fires in homes remained steady

In 2022, there were 257 electrical fires in homes. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There has been a steady drop in the number of residential fires here, from 1,235 cases in 2018 to 934 cases in 2022.

Over the same period, the number of residential fires of electrical origin remained constant, ranging between 250 and 300 cases each year.

In 2022, there were 257 electrical fires in homes, according to the latest data shared by Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim on Tuesday.

He was responding to parliamentary questions filed by Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang) and Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC), both of whom had asked about fires in homes and what more can be done to prevent them.

Mr Liang asked if there had been an increase in residential fires related to electrical appliances and devices, saying he had encountered a few residential fires in his constituency and quite a number of them were electrical in nature.

“We know every household fire... is devastating to families and the neighbours,” he said.

“How can we significantly raise the awareness of households on the likely fire risks, and how can we make our homes, our neighbourhoods, more fire-safe?”

Associate Professor Faishal said the main causes of residential fires were similar across the five years between 2018 and 2022. They were: unattended cooking, the indiscriminate disposal of lighted materials such as cigarette butts, and electrical fires such as those caused by faulty electrical appliances or wiring.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), on its part, has been organising a series of Community Resilience Days to raise the level of fire safety awareness in the heartland, said Prof Faishal.

After a fire breaks out in a home, the SCDF also conducts door-to-door engagements with the residents of the affected block to share fire safety tips. These include distributing brochures with advice on how to prevent fires caused by issues with batteries and personal mobility devices (PMDs).

The SCDF also reviews the Fire Code regularly, Prof Faishal added, noting that all new residential premises have been required to install home fire alarm devices since June 2018.

But, he noted, home owners have a critical role to play, such as by using only electrical plugs that bear the Safety Mark and PMDs that are certified and have passed electrical safety tests under the UL2272 standard.

Electrical appliances should also be switched off when not in use, and batteries and electrical devices should not be left unattended when charging, he said.

“Even though the numbers have been going down. I think it is important for us to bring the message home that each of us has a role to play,” he added, as he warned against complacency.

“Above all, I think it is personal responsibility,” he said.

It was previously reported that the fire that led to the death of a 19-year-old firefighter, Sergeant (1) Edward H. Go, in December 2022 was likely to be of electrical origin.

According to preliminary investigations by the SCDF, the blaze had started in the bedroom of a fourth-storey flat in Block 91 Henderson Road.

Sgt (1) Go died after fighting the fire in the two-room unit. A full-time national serviceman, he is the first person from the SCDF to have died during an operation.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.