Following the issuance of two Fire Hazard Abatement Notices by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) to the Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JCTC) last Fri, Bukit Batok SMC Member of Parliament (MP) Murali Pillai has claimed accountability for lapses in fire safety at the affected block.
In a Facebook post on Fri (15 Nov), Mr Murali said that he had learnt about the issues surrounding the access and deployment of firehose on the 13th floor while walking with the SCDF officers, and was “naturally concerned about both matters”.
He said he had “immediately” urged the SCDF officers to investigate these issues, and stressed that SCDF “took notice of the matter on the day of the fire incident itself” without “later owing to anyone else drawing attention to this matter”.
Mr Murali confirmed that JKeart Pte Ltd, the contractor responsible for maintaining the hose reels, had claimed that water supply was available to the hose reel in question at the time of the fire.
“They provided to Town Council a video of the hose reel in question in working condition on the same day of the fire incident. This led to Town Council meeting SCDF officers earlier this week to provide what JKeart showed.
“After consulting SCDF, Town Council issued a statement accepting SCDF’s position on the matter. It is now investigating JKeart’s assertions,” Mr Murali elaborated.
Touching on the issue of the padlocked hose reel compartments, Mr Murali said that two JCTC officers were identified as responsible for instructing the padlocking of the fire hose compartments “by using small padlocks that can be dislodged using force”.
“As mentioned in Town Council’s statement issued yesterday, these officers decided to do so to prevent misuse of the firehoses. This was a mistake on their part. They have admitted to their mistakes. The Town Council management will pursue disciplinary action against them,” he stressed.

“I am clear in my mind that, as your elected representative, I am accountable to you for both issues. These incidents should not have happened and, for that, I must apologise,” said Mr Murali.
The MP assured that he will be working with his elected and appointed Town Councillors on a review of the present case, in addition to ensuring that the fire safety system is strengthened to ensure its reliability.
“I expect the Town Council to make a separate statement on the steps taken separately,” he said.

Mr Murali also stressed that while he “did not make any reference” to the issue in his previous Facebook post, he insisted that he was actually at the fire scene on the same day itself “just before 8 am”, and had mostly focused on assisting the residents who were affected by the fire.
“By that time, the 3 fire victims from the 13th floor unit at Blk 210A, Mdm Goh, her son and husband were transported by ambulance to hospital. My focus fell on residents affected by the fire and see how we can help them. I also met and thanked several residents who helped with the evacuation during the firefight.
“I then channelled our energies to help the affected families staying on the 14th and the 15th floors of the block. They were not able to use their toilets, draw water, etc because the service pipes were damaged by the fire on the 13th floor.
“Through the coordination of our community volunteers, HDB & Town Council, we managed to restore services in record time. We distributed emergency relief packages for affected families,” he said.
He added that he and his community team have also “monitored Mdm Goh and her family members closely”.
“My community volunteers and I paid them visits in hospital. Mdm Goh’s husband was subsequently discharged. Her son transferred to the High Dependency ward after a few days.
“Mdm Goh, however, was still in ICU. I also met her 2 other children whilst there. Mdm Goh’s family members expressed appreciation for the help they received, especially from HDB.
“Mdm Goh, whom I know personally, still figures in my prayers every day,” said Mr Murali.

Padlocked hose reel compartment issue “a prime example” of how opposition parties should “put pressure on those in positions of authority” to be accountable to the people: SDP chief Chee Soon Juan

Responding to Mr Murali’s statement today via a Facebook post of his own, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan said that the issue is “a prime example of how the opposition should work: to put pressure on those in positions of authority to account to the people”.
While he commended Mr Murali’s effort to be accountable for the issue at hand, Dr Chee suggested that it was his SDP team that had laid the groundwork in the process of investigating the root of the lapse in the relevant fire safety equipment.
“Taking the time and effort to do our homework (in this instance, talking to the BB residents, inspecting the fire equipment, and gathering feedback) allowed us to establish facts that the JCTC could not ignore or deny.
“Then came the probing and persistent questioning of the PAP MP and town council officials which resulted in the initial piecemeal release of information by JCTC but, finally, a full accounting by Mr Murali,” he said.

“This is the work of a responsible and effective opposition. Ultimately, it is the people who benefit,” he said, adding that it was crucial to hold Mr Murali’s “feet to the fire because of the gravity of the situation” without allowing the issue to “degenerate into a personal attack”.
“That’s how politics should be conducted, without fear but always in a professional and principled manner devoid of character assassination and personal ruin. That’s how the SDP will conduct itself in Parliament,” said Dr Chee.
SDP chief alleges that JCTC did not reveal inspection on the morning after the fire, questions why “a misleading report” was made
Dr Chee, in a Facebook post on Tue (12 Nov), pointed out that JCTC did not reveal that “an inspection was made on the morning right after the fire and hosereel was certified to be working”.
Stating that JCTC’s claim contradicted SCDF’s report, Dr Chee questioned the town council as to why “such a misleading report” was made.
“The JCTC has responded to the fire incident at BB Blk 210A saying that the hose reels at the block “last underwent maintenance and testing by the appointed contractor on Oct 14, and certified to be in working condition.”
“But it accepted the SCDF’s finding that the hosereel in question was not working during the fire.
“Time of the report: 9:30 am. (The fire occurred at about 4:30 am that day.) Action taken: “Check and found Hosereel pump system normal working condition.” This contradicts SCDF’s report.

“Can JCTC confirm this Job Sheet and, if this is true, why was such a misleading report made? In the interest of full transparency, why did it not reveal this fact?” said Dr Chee.

SCDF earlier issued warning to JCTC for non-compliance
Earlier on 5 Nov, SCDF responded to Dr Chee’s feedback regarding the non-functioning hose reel, stating that its officers “have done a follow up” with JCTC, under which the Bukit Batok block is managed.
“Town Councils are responsible for the maintenance of their estate’s fire safety measures and ensuring that they are functioning and well-maintained.
“SCDF officers will be inspecting the premises to ensure the Town Council’s compliance with the fire safety requirement. Enforcement action will be taken in the event of non-compliance,” said SCDF.
Dr Chee, who had earlier visited the unit on 3 Nov following the fire incident, pointed out that he was informed that the Fire Hose Reel on the floor was not functioning at the time the fire broke out – despite having been certified for inspection last month – due to an absence of water.
JCTC was subsequently issued a warning by SCDF after it was found that firefighters who were attending to a fire at Bukit Batok discovered that there was no water supply from the fire hose reels at the block.
According to a statement issued to the media, several of the hose reel cabinets had been padlocked. Even after firefighters broke one of the padlocks, they were still unable to use the fire hose reel because there was no water supply, said SCDF.

Following the fire incident, SCDF notified JCTC about the padlocked cabinets and the malfunctioning fire hose reels, and subsequently performed an inspection with town council representatives.
JCTC was then issued Fire Hazard Abatement Notices, which serve as warnings to rectify the non-compliance. In this instance, it would mean ensuring that the hose reels are functioning and are not locked, said SCDF.
Should non-compliances of the same nature be detected during a re-inspection by SCDF, the Town Council could be liable for a composition fine or even prosecution, warned SCDF.
“SCDF has since verified through onsite inspections that the fire hose reels at the block are now accessible and in working order,” added the Force.
Three rescued from fire at Bukit Batok flat via aerial ladder; cause of fire under investigation
Firefighters from Bukit Batok Fire Station and Jurong Fire Station responded to an alert regarding the fire at around 4.31 a.m, and that a Combined Platform Ladder 60m (CPL60) was deployed to conduct an aerial rescue, SCDF said last Fri.
“A man in his 60’s and another man in his 30’s were found standing on the ledge outside the kitchen’s window. A vast accumulation of items in the kitchen limited the working space for the firefighters. This, coupled with the two men being highly exhausted, prevented the firefighters from pulling them safely into the unit.
“From within the unit, firefighters used ropes to secure the two men. Thereafter, rescuers from SCDF’s elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) rapelled from the unit above and brought the two men into the CPL60’s rescue cage. The men were brought down to the ground floor and were attended to by SCDF paramedics,” said SCDF.
The men were brought down to the ground floor and were attended to by SCDF paramedics.
Dr Chee called the SCDF rescue via aerial ladder a “dangerous mission” that was “executed expertly”.

The three casualties were conveyed to Singapore General Hospital for burn injuries and smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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