SINGAPORE — A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) firefighter who is a Full-Time National Serviceman (NSF) passed away after falling unconscious during a fire-fighting operation at 91 Henderson Road this Thursday (8 Dec).
According to SCDF, 19-year-old Corporal Edward Go is its first firefighter to die during a operation.
SCDF was alerted to a fire at an HDB unit along Henderson Road at about 11.10 am on Thursday.
Upon arrival, the fire was raging inside a unit on the 4th floor, and the corridor was heavily smoke-logged.
Its firefighters, donning breathing apparatus, entered and pushed through the smoke-logged unit with two water jets to engage the fire.
Sometime into the firefighting operation, Cpl Go, who was part of the first response team, fell unconscious in the kitchen area.
(Photo: Shin Min Daily)
His crew immediately brought him out of the unit and administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on him.
An SCDF ambulance crew at the scene also used the automated external defibrillator on him and conveyed him to Singapore General Hospital.
Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
On Friday, SCDF announced that it will be holding a ceremonial funeral for CPL Go with the approval of his family.
Did A Funeral Tent Block The Fire Engine Access For The Fire Fighters?
The photo taken by Lianhe Zaobao shows where the two Red Rhino vehicles were situated in relation to block 91.
TOC understands that there was a Red Rhino that was stuck in the mud, which required another Red Rhino to be deployed as a result.
The Red Rhino, LF4G, was launched on 13 September 2014, is the world’s first urban fire fighting vehicle equipped with fully integrated Compressed Air Foam (CAF) pump system.
The LF4G is compact in size so it is able to quickly maneuver through smaller roads and tight corners at HDB estates. According to the company that built it, it is designed to save lives in hard-to-reach fire and rescue emergencies.
A photo posted on the SingaporeRaw subreddit after the fire on Thursday, shows a funeral tent set up near block 96B of Henderson Road.
The person who posted the original photo, wrote that it is believed that the funeral had blocked the fire engine access (FEA) catered for the HDB flats.
The person further hypothesised that the estate was designed to cater for the lack of FEA of the neighbouring blocks.
The person who posted the photo was correct in stating that there is no FEA for the neighbouring blocks, as one can see from the satellite image.
It is uncertain if the FEA for the blocks at 95-96 Henderson road is meant for the neighbouring blocks 91, 92 and 93.
According to Mr Ravi Philemon, who was visiting the site with his team from Red Dot United on Thursday, one neighbour said the tent was in a spot reserved for fire trucks, slowing down the firefighters’ response.
“The safety of others has been compromised just because our SCDF heroes can’t get through. The big signs that say “fire access” was ignored,” allegedly said the resident.
A video taken by a resident at Block 96B shows a clearer picture where one can see the path taken by the Red Rhino vehicles up the green slope.
And that the tent does, from the angle of where the video was shot, block access to the bigger fire engine from accessing the grass ramp.
According to a report by Lianhe Zaobao which is only available in its print newspaper, the company which set up the tent said it had erected the tent according to the prescribed size of 32 by 18 feet.
It also reported that six anti-collision barriers were removed.
According to a resident whom its reporter spoke with, the SCDF officers spent nearly an hour trying to dismantle the barriers as the tent was blocking the access.
The Tanjong Pagar Town Council, which is in charge of the estate, declined to comment in response to queries from Lianhe Zaobao as investigations are currently ongoing.
It is, however, currently working with SCDF regarding this incident.
HDB Block Built Before Fire-Engine Accessway Was Required
Under the SCDF Fire Code 2018, for a building under the classification of Purpose Group II that exceeds the habitable height of 10m, a fire engine accessway or access road must be provided to the entrance of all exit staircases with landing valves (dry or wet riser).
The fire engine accessway of at least 15m shall also be provided to access at least one façade of each block and shall be located at a distance of at least 2m and at most 10m away from the façade of the building.
This is to facilitate rescue with direct access to unit windows (excluding exit staircase, smoke-free approach to exit staircase).
Other than clearance, the accessway must also be built to meet load-bearing requirements to bear the weight of the fire engine.
As residential buildings under PGII, HDB flats above 10 metres in height are required to fulfil this requirement.
However, blocks 91, 92 and 93 are HDB flats which were built in 1975.
As the SCDF Fire Code, which was introduced in 1974, did not have the requirement of providing an accessway way or access road for a fire engine, the planners for the buildings during that era need not cater for such fire safety design features.
That said, should there not be a review on updating the requirements on existing buildings built before existing fire safety codes were put in place?