Rubbish chute a key source of home fires

Ms Sun Xueling, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, engaging a resident on fire safety last night. It was the need for such public education efforts that prompted Ms Sun
Ms Sun Xueling, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, engaging a resident on fire safety last night. It was the need for such public education efforts that prompted Ms Sun and various groups, including the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Punggol West Community Emergency and Engagement Committee, to organise door-to-door visits. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE
A fire in the corridor of this HDB block in Bedok was due to an electric scooter bursting into flames.
A fire in the corridor of this HDB block in Bedok was due to an electric scooter bursting into flames.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

MP Sun Xueling visits residents to spread tips on prevention, response and evacuation

Equipping residents with proper fire-safety and prevention skills is the best defence against fires that may break out in their homes, often in places such as the rubbish chute and kitchen.

As part of public education efforts, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, Ms Sun Xueling, went door to door last night to engage residents in her ward on fire safety and prevention.

In the first 10 months of this year, 2,008 fires broke out in residential premises across Singapore, with almost 50 per cent of them being rubbish chute fires.

As for the remaining incidents, they had to do with unattended cooking, discarded items and electrical items.

For the whole of last year, there were 2,657 fire incidents in residential premises, according to Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) statistics. The number of such fires in 2016 was 2,818.

In the past three months, two fires broke out in Housing Board flats in Punggol West, which is under Ms Sun's ward.

While the fires did not result in any injuries, there was significant damage to the premises.

  • 2,008

    Number of fires that broke out in residential premises across Singapore in the first 10 months of this year. Almost 50 per cent of them were rubbish chute fires.

    2,657

    Number of fires in residential premises for whole of 2017.

    2,818

    Number of fires in residential premises in 2016.

The first incident, on Sept 2, involved a personal mobility device (PMD) that caught fire in the living room.

 
 

A woman and a child managed to evacuate the unit safely. The fire was put out by a member of the public using a water hose reel before SCDF personnel arrived.

The second, which took place on Dec 3, happened while occupants of the unit were not at home.

Investigations showed that the fire started in a bedroom and was caused by lit joss sticks. In the incident, 20 residents had to be evacuated from the block.

It was this need for public education efforts that prompted Ms Sun and various groups, including the SCDF and Punggol West Community Emergency and Engagement Committee, to organise door-to-door visits so that they could distribute pamphlets with information on fire safety and safe evacuation.

While security agencies "stand ready" to rescue and take care of residents in times of need, emergencies can happen any time, said Ms Sun, who is also Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development.

"Our best defence is if our residents also know the skills to respond, to extricate themselves from danger, to take active steps to protect themselves and also to alert their neighbours," she said.

Rubbish chute fires remain the most common type of fire in residential areas.

The SCDF said on its Facebook page last night that from January to October, it responded to 57 fires involving PMDs and power-assisted bicycles (PABs). This is a 50 per cent increase from the 38 fires involving PMDs and PABs in the same period last year.

Besides handing out pamphlets last night, Ms Sun also highlighted to residents the steps for extinguishing a fire in the rubbish chute on their own by using, for example, a bucket of water.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2018, with the headline 'Rubbish chute a key source of home fires'. Print Edition | Subscribe