Residents trained, equipped to fight fires

ST VIDEO: CHEW SENG KIM
Singapore Civil Defence Force officers teaching residents in Bedok how to use fire extinguishers yesterday during Emergency Preparedness Day. Officers responding to a "shooting attack" at a crowded market and food centre in Bedok yesterday, in an eme
Officers responding to a "shooting attack" at a crowded market and food centre in Bedok yesterday, in an emergency exercise meant to familiarise residents with the way to respond in the event of an attack.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Singapore Civil Defence Force officers teaching residents in Bedok how to use fire extinguishers yesterday during Emergency Preparedness Day. Officers responding to a "shooting attack" at a crowded market and food centre in Bedok yesterday, in an eme
Singapore Civil Defence Force officers teaching residents in Bedok how to use fire extinguishers yesterday during Emergency Preparedness Day. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

HDB block gets fire extinguishers on every floor after blaze in a unit last year affected 12 other flats

A 12-storey block of rental flats in Bedok South has fire extinguishers on every floor, the first Housing Board block to be equipped for emergencies in this manner.

The initiative for Block 12, Bedok South Avenue 2, which has 308 flats, was mooted by grassroots volunteers in the Bedok Community Emergency and Engagement Committee after a unit in the block caught fire on July 9 last year and affected 12 neighbouring units.

Close to 200 residents living in the one-room flats were evacuated, and six were taken to hospital after suffering smoke inhalation.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, an MP for East Coast GRC, announced the pilot project at an Emergency Preparedness Day in his Bedok ward yesterday.

Mr Lim noted the layout of the block, with an enclosed common corridor where units face each other on a long stretch. "If there is a fire, it can be a big hazard for our residents," he said, referring to how a fire can spread easily.

A total of 24 fire extinguishers, or two on every floor, were installed at lift landings in Block 12 this month, and 40 residents have been trained to use them and also how to respond in a fire.

Staff at an activity centre on the ground floor of the block have also been trained to use the equipment.

Madam Lim Bee Hiang, 61, a part-time coffee shop assistant, welcomed the fire extinguishers, saying they give her peace of mind.

"I've seen three fires in this block in my 12 years living here," she said.

"You have to learn how to take care of yourself. Last time, we could only run if we saw smoke in the corridor. But if a fire breaks out now, we can immediately react to it."

Having the necessary equipment is just the first step of being prepared to deal with an emergency or a crisis, said Mr Lim.

"The second step is to prepare our residents to use these facilities. We are reaching out to residents to ensure that in every household, there is one person who knows how to take care of themselves," he said.

"At the same time, within the block, there must be some residents who know how to take care of others," he added.

There is also one automated external defibrillator(AED) for every two HDB blocks in the Bedok ward.

AEDs are used to treat sudden cardiac arrests.

The Emergency Preparedness Day and measures to train residents for disasters are part of the SGSecure effort to sensitise, train and mobilise Singaporeans to prevent terror incidents and respond to them as one united people.

Yesterday, Mr Lim joined residents in an emergency exercise that saw a "shooting attack" at a crowded market and food centre in Bedok.

The "live" scenario was meant to familiarise residents with the way to respond in the event of an attack.

Residents also learnt how to use a fire extinguisher and perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the injured yesterday, at various booths set up outside the market.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2016, with the headline 'Residents trained, equipped to fight fires'. Print Edition | Subscribe