Elderly couple help to put out fire
Two Bedok North neighbours aged 12 and 76 helped fight a fire and save a life
Heroes come in all ages, as proven by this unlikely team of an elderly couple and a 12-year-old boy.
Together, they put out a raging fire at their block, informed the authorities and saved a life.
Mr Goh Min Juan, 76, was at home on Sept 8 with his wife, Mrs Goh Ah Moi, 75, when they heard a loud bang.
"We didn't think it was anything at first, just someone knocking something," he said.
The retirees then heard a second bang and rushed out of their four-bedroom flat on the 13th storey of Block 78, Bedok North Road, to see what was happening.
"We saw smoke in the corridor coming down the stairs from the 14th storey, which is the highest floor," said Mr Goh. "We went up the stairs and saw a big fire in the corridor."
The couple went back to their flat and Mr Goh grabbed a pail of water from their toilet.
"I stood on the stairs and started throwing water at the fire, but it was so big and kept burning," he said.
"I told my wife to fill up another pail and she kept filling up the pails as I ran back and forth trying to put out the fire."
Their neighbour, Nathaniel Tan, a 12-year-old pupil from Red Swastika School, went over to see if he could help.
He ended up calling the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on his mobile phone.
Nathaniel said he went closer and saw pieces of cardboard and a bicycle burning.
"I wasn't scared, but the uncle told me to stand back," he said.
"He stood at the landing and kept pouring water. It was very heroic."
After about seven trips back and forth, Mr Goh had all but put out the fire, but he continued pouring water just in case it restarted.
When SCDF officers arrived, they opened the door of the unit next to the fire. To Mr Goh's surprise, a 15-year-old boy was inside.
"After the incident, the boy told me he opened the door and saw the fire after smoke entered his home. But he was afraid to come out because there was so much smoke."
The police have classified the fire as a case of mischief and are investigating.
An SCDF spokesman said it was alerted to the fire at about 4.40pm on Sept 8.
"The fire involved items outside the unit and was extinguished by a member of the public using buckets of water," he said.
"The cause of the fire is under investigation."
For his heroic deed, Mr Goh was given the Public Spiritedness Award by the SCDF.
The director of SCDF's public affairs department, Colonel Abdul Razak, said that Mr Goh at 76, is the oldest SCDF Public Spiritedness Award winner.
"This shows that age is no barrier to being a Community First Responder," he said. "Way to go, Mr Goh."
Mr Goh said he was glad to receive the award.
"I feel recognised, but it is part of our duty as neighbours to help each other," he said.
He said he had received training from the SCDF 30 years ago.
"I attended a class back then at the Residents' Committee Centre," said the RC member of more than 30 years.
Mrs Goh said their 40-year-old son and 38-year-old daughter were concerned when they came home, but called them heroes.
Madam Kek Ah Tiar, 79, a retiree who lives in the unit opposite the Gohs, was grateful that they put out the fire.
"I was in Malaysia and when I found out about the fire, I took the next plane back," she said.
"If not for my neighbours, my home might have been burned down."
Mr Goh said that the mother of the 15-year-old boy trapped in the unit above also thanked them.
"We were just doing what good neighbours do," he said. "The most important thing is that no one is injured."
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