Cops who evacuated guests from burning Serangoon Road hotel given award
Two cops who fought Little India hotel fire and helped to evacuate guests given award
When a fire broke out at Broadway Hotel in Little India on Jan 25 this year, it could have ended with a lot of people being hurt or, worse, killed.
But thanks to the quick-thinking actions of Senior Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nizam Khan Surattee and Inspector Darius Teo, no one was seriously hurt.
Not only did they help to fight the fire, but they also led the evacuation of the seven-storey hotel at Serangoon Road.
Both police officers, who are from the Rochor Neighbourhood Police Centre, were awarded the MHA Star Service Award, which recognises officers with outstanding service qualities, for their role in the fire rescue.
They were among the 160 officers recognised at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Excel Award Ceremony yesterday.
Senior Staff Sgt Nizam, 31, an assistant operations officer, told The New Paper yesterday: "It is my first time receiving the award and I am happy and surprised to receive it. For me, it is that sense of accomplishment you get when you are able to resolve a matter or a case that makes me love what I do."
The duo were doing their supervisory rounds in Race Course Lane that day when they noticed white smoke coming from the hotel's kitchen vent.
Insp Teo, 37, told The New Paper in a report in February: "Very quickly we noticed the white smoke become thick black smoke. That was when we knew that something was probably wrong."
Armed with only two fire extinguishers, the officers entered the kitchen and were confronted with a fire that was devouring the ceiling above the stove.
Soon, the fire became too intense for them to handleso their priority turned to evacuating the hotel guests.
While Senior Staff Sgt Nizam quickly set up a cordon around the hotel to ensure the safety of the public, Insp Teo, together with the hotel's shift manager, Mr Liaquath Ali, 54, started evacuating the 26 guests.
In about 15 minutes, all 65 rooms were cleared and every guest was accounted for.
Of those evacuated, two were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and breathlessness.
Senior Staff Sgt Nizam, who has been in the police force for seven years, lost his voice the next day due to the smoke he had inhaled, but he did not tell his family about the incident.
"It is all part and parcel of the job," he said.
Also honoured at the ceremony were the officers from L' Specialist, one of the teams in the Unlicensed Moneylending Strikeforce.
They received the MHA 3i Award, which recognises exemplary contributions and passion towards innovation and improvement to the Home Team.
Assistant Superintendent Kamaruzaman Gaffar, 50, who heads the team, said the background work needed to nab loan sharks can sometimes take between six months and a year.
"When we manage to bust unlicensed moneylending syndicates and catch their ringleaders, it's an achievement to the whole team as justice is finally served," he added.
On top of tracking down these loan sharks, his team also helps families who may be vulnerable to borrowing from loan sharks. For example, they organise island-wide roadshows to educate and raise awareness about unlicensed moneylending.
ASP Kamaruzaman said: "Even as the number of unlicensed moneylending and harassment cases dropped in the last few years, we cannot be complacent and can do more in ensuring that the numbers stay low."
It is all part and parcel of the job.
- Senior Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nizam Khan Surattee
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