‘Firefighting was his calling’: SCDF officer who died was only child who wanted to help others, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

‘Firefighting was his calling’: SCDF officer who died was only child who wanted to help others

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) regular officer who died in the line of duty was a nursing graduate who wanted to help others, and eventually found his calling as a firefighter.

Friends and relatives of Captain Kenneth Tay Xue Qin spoke highly of him as they paid their respects to him on May 17, the first day of his wake in Telok Blangah.

The 30-year-old rota commander, an only child, died on May 16 after fighting a fire on board a marine vessel anchored at Raffles Reserved Anchorage in the south-west of Singapore.

Rota commanders lead a team of front-line officers to respond to fire, rescue and hazardous material incidents.

SCDF said CPT Tay had aced many proficiency and certification tests that firefighting officers are required to take.

His friends told The Straits Times on May 17 that he studied nursing at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and will be remembered as a kind-hearted man bent on helping others.

His professor at the NUS nursing school, who wanted to be known only as Associate Professor Lau, said CPT Tay signed up to be a peer tutor as he wanted to guide other students who needed help.

“He was involved in community services, and was always humble. After he graduated from NUS, he came to look for me and told me he was going to join SCDF as a firefighter. He said it was his passion, and he just wanted to help people,” said Prof Lau.

“It was such a shock to hear the news. He was so young.”

His course mate at NUS, who wanted to be known only as Ms Ooi, remembered him as a friend who would never shy away from helping others.

“If I could describe him with one word, it would be that he was thoughtful.

“He told me firefighting was his passion and calling, which was why he decided to join SCDF after nursing school. He said he never regretted it,” said Ms Ooi, who is in her 20s.

His neighbour, who wanted to be known as Madam Lim, said she had known CPT Tay for more than 10 years.

She lives in the same block as his family, and has been a customer of his mother, a hairdresser, for years.

“He was very playful when he was young, but I watched him grow up to become such a good boy. He would always greet me when we see each other in the lift,” said Madam Lim, 70.

“I found out about his death only when I bumped into his father in the lift yesterday. I remember he told me, ‘my son died, my only son’, and I couldn’t believe it.

“His eyes were so red and bloodshot, like he had been crying for hours.”

She added: “His parents are in their 60s, and they just lost their only son. It’s so heartbreaking.”

CPT Tay’s casket arrived at the wake just before 7pm, with family members gathered to receive him. His funeral will be held on May 20.Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam arrived at the wake at around 7.30pm and paid his respects to CPT Tay after speaking to his parents.

Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam (right) comforting the parents of late SCDF officer Kenneth Tay on May 17. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

More than 100 people turned up at the wake. His friends and family members, two of whom were carrying CPT Tay’s dogs, were seen comforting one another.

His friends from Catholic Junior College (CJC), which he graduated from in 2011, said they remembered him as someone who “pursued his passions with unwavering conviction”.

His CJC classmate, Mr Boey Teng Ann, 31, said: “Kenneth was a good friend to us all. Always a kind soul with a jovial attitude.”

Speaking on behalf of CPT Tay’s CJC classmates, Mr Boey said: “He will be missed and remembered deeply as a source of inspiration for all of us.”

[Death of SCDF Officer] An SCDF regular officer, CPT Kenneth Tay, passed away while on duty, yesterday. CPT Tay was a...

Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Thursday, May 16, 2024

Mr Frank Meng, 31, another of CPT Tay’s friends from CJC, said he was a dedicated judoka who represented the college in various tournaments.

“We used to joke that he looked really tough and fierce when he was training in his judo gear, but inside, he was a warm and caring friend who did not mind lending a listening ear when you needed one,” said Mr Meng.

“I am really heartbroken that this accident happened and took away such a beautiful soul.

“I hope his family finds peace during this difficult time, and may people remember him for the values he represented.”

  • Additional reporting by Andrew Wong