33rd Asean Summit

SCDF's hazmat capabilities on standby

The Hazmat Control Vehicle that the SCDF is deploying at the upcoming Asean Summit is equipped with drones (left) to detect hazardous substances. Hazmat specialists inside the vehicle can also monitor the atmosphere for chemicals and conduct tests fo
The Hazmat Control Vehicle that the SCDF is deploying at the upcoming Asean Summit is equipped with drones to detect hazardous substances.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
The Hazmat Control Vehicle that the SCDF is deploying at the upcoming Asean Summit is equipped with drones (left) to detect hazardous substances. Hazmat specialists inside the vehicle can also monitor the atmosphere for chemicals and conduct tests fo
Hazmat specialists inside the vehicle can also monitor the atmosphere for chemicals and conduct tests for the presence of biological agents.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Vehicles, specialists ready to handle chemical, biological, radiological threats

The threat of chemical, biological and radiological attacks is a key focus for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in its security preparations for the coming Asean Summit to be held here from Nov 13 to 15.

Its hazardous material (hazmat) unit will put a fleet of vehicles on standby at various strategic locations around Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre to respond to any mass casualty or chemical agent incidents.

These include the Hazmat Mitigation Vehicle, the Mass Decontamination Vehicle and the Hazmat Control Vehicle (HCV).

The HCV, which was launched in April this year, is equipped with drones that can help SCDF officers detect, identify and monitor hazardous substances during a chemical incident.

The vehicle has advanced detection and analytical equipment on board to assess and identify hazardous substances and this helps SCDF make sense of relevant information to steer decision-making on the ground.

It is also equipped with mobile transporters - two-wheeled, self-balancing personal vehicles - which allow hazmat specialists to cover a wide area more efficiently.

Speaking to reporters yesterday during a preview of SCDF's hazmat operations for the Asean Summit, the director of operations, Assistant Commissioner Daniel Seet, said preparations will "come close" to that of the Trump-Kim summit held in June this year.

This is because both involve extensive operations spanning a number of days, he said.

"Because of the several standbys we have had this year, we have been maintaining a very high state of readiness. So there will be no let-up on this," he added.

United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a historic meeting on Sentosa on June 12, which saw 7,000 personnel from the Home Team and the Singapore Armed Forces involved.

Similar to the Trump-Kim summit, the vicinity around Suntec was declared an "Enhanced Security Special Event Area" by the police yesterday for the Asean Summit.

People and vehicles entering the area during the summit will be subjected to strict security checks and measures.

The SCDF will have 150 officers - comprising regulars and full-time national servicemen - and 20 emergency vehicles on standby for the event.

However, one unique challenge for security forces in the operation will be preparing and laying the ground for contingencies, without disrupting businesses in the Suntec area, said AC Seet.

For this, the SCDF has actively engaged mall operators so that it can deploy personnel and provide security cover without disrupting daily operations of the malls.

AC Seet said SCDF works closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs and intelligence agencies to provide threat assessments for events such as the Asean Summit.

"While we have not received any specific threats, these are the range of capabilities that the SCDF will be maintaining in the event of a contingency," said AC Seet.

"We won't take anything lightly."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2018, with the headline 'SCDF's hazmat capabilities on standby'. Print Edition | Subscribe