Five get SCDF award for saving toddlers in Marsiling fire
For six years when he was a firefighter, Mr Muhammad Firdaus Aziz ran into burning buildings to save other people.
But on Thursday (June 30) he received his first award for doing so, seven years after he had left the Singapore Civil Defence Force in 2015.
"I feel happy... This is my first time getting an award (for responding to a fire)," said the 35-year-old, who is now a security guard.
Mr Firdaus and four others were presented with the Community Lifesaver Award by the SCDF for rescuing two toddlers from a fire in a second-floor flat at Block 218 Marsiling Crescent last Wednesday night.
The other recipients, Mr Sebastian Ng, a neighbour, had alerted the police that there might be people trapped in the unit; two police officers, Sergeant Nur Fadilah Arshad and Special Constable Franco Kam Chuan Kun, had rescued two toddlers from the flat; and Madam Annaboorani Kanapathy, another resident, had helped comfort the toddlers after they were evacuated.
The children, who were alone in the flat, were subsequently taken by ambulance to KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
Alerted to the fire by a neighbour, Mr Firdaus, who lives on the sixth floor, had rushed to the unit and kicked the door open when he heard the children crying. But he could not get very far because of the thick smoke.
Mr Firdaus said it was instinct that made him rush towards the fire, adding that his superiors in the SCDF had trained him well.
His neighbour, Mr Ng, 26, had returned to the scene after moving his family to safety, as his wife told him she had heard the neighbour's children inside. Seeing two police officers, he alerted them to the situation.
Sgt Fadilah and SC Franco are Ground Response Force officers with Woodlands West Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC).
"Maybe it was my motherly instinct to rush in," said Sgt Fadilah, 34, whose younger of two children, at three years old, is the same age as the older of the toddlers.
"Being able to save someone's life is not an everyday thing," said SC Franco, 24, a full-time national serviceman who joined Woodlands West NPC a few months ago.
The fifth recipient, Madam Annaboorani, 55, a pre-school teacher, also coaxed the terrified children into putting on the oxygen masks given to them and helped keep the younger of the toddlers from losing consciousness.
"When I came down, I myself was having anxiety... (but) when I saw the children my heart really went out to them," she said.
Colonel Goh Boon Han, commander of the 4th SCDF Division, who presented the award to the recipients, said it usually takes SCDF responders about eight minutes to arrive at an incident, so the initial response of the community is crucial.
"The heroic actions of all those who are receiving awards this afternoon made the difference between life and death," he added.
Pointing out how everyone had played a part in helping save the two toddlers, Madam Annaboorani said: "If the (police officers), Firdaus or Sebastian were late, we might have not even known that the children were inside... The children were very lucky."