Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai claims accountability for lapses in fire safety, two JCTC staff to be disciplined for locking hose reel cabinets

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.

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