4 property owners fined in 2021 for changing use of parking areas
Four property owners and occupiers were charged in court last year over changing the use of the vehicle parking areas in their premises without prior approval from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
These unauthorised changes are a major fire safety violation which increases fire risk and hinders emergency escape routes, putting lives in danger during a fire outbreak, said the SCDF on Monday (April 4).
While the number of cases last year is a decrease from the six cases in 2020, the SCDF said in its statement that all property owners and occupiers must seek its approval if they wish to change the use of any premises.
The property owners and occupiers who were charged in court last year were fined between $3,500 and $4,000.
Under the Fire Safety Act, a fire safety certificate must be obtained before the premises can be occupied or used. Those who wish to change the use of any premises must seek SCDF's approval.
The building owner or occupier must get a registered architect or professional engineer to prepare and submit their plans to SCDF for approval and a registered inspector to inspect the completed fire safety works.
When an unauthorised change of use of premises is detected, the property owners or occupiers will be issued a notice of offence. They are required to rectify the fire safety violation by restoring the affected area to its original usage.
Alternatively, they may engage a registered architect or professional engineer to advise on the fire safety requirements that need to be fulfilled in the affected area.
SCDF said that those found to have breached general fire safety regulations can be fined up to $10,000, face a jail term of up to six months, or both.
For serious violations, the offender can be fined up to $200,000, jailed for 24 months, or both.
In the case of a continuing offence, the person responsible may face a further fine of up to $1,000 for each day which the offence continues after conviction. SCDF may also require the premises to be closed temporarily.