Henderson fatal fire: Funeral wake blocked fire engine access point, causing 18 mins delay, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Henderson fatal fire: Funeral wake blocked fire engine access point, causing 18 mins delay

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The 19-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF) who died after battling a blaze in a rental flat in Henderson Road in December 2022 was a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer with “some level of experience”, and his performance as a trainee was among the top 25 per cent of his cohort.

Sergeant (1) Edward H. Go attained a gold standard for his Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) and an A-grade for this Breathing Apparatus Proficiency Test - both of which are mandatory tests that all NSFs must go through before they are deployed as firefighters.

Sgt (1) Go, who is the first person from the SCDF to have died during an operation, also fared well in other mandatory course requirements and attended to nearly 60 fire and rescue calls when he was posted to the Central Fire Station in May 2022, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said on Monday in response to questions filed by Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) and Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC).

Associate Professor Faishal also revealed that 40 per cent of the responders who were deployed to the fire at Block 91 Henderson Road on Dec 8, 2022 were national servicemen, with regular officers making up the remaining 60 per cent.

In all, 22 emergency vehicles and 61 responders from six fire stations were sent to fight the blaze that was raging inside a two-room unit on the fourth storey of the block in Bukit Merah, after the SCDF was alerted at about 11.10am that day.

The arrival of SCDF officers to the scene was delayed by 18 minutes, said Prof Faishal, as the fire engine access way leading to the block was obstructed by a tent where a funeral wake was being held.

The officers had to remove bollards that were padlocked to the ground near the tent to create an access path, he added.

However, Prof Faishal said it was still premature to determine the factors which contributed to SGT (1) Go’s death, and he was unable to share further details due to ongoing investigations.

He said the police is currently conducting an independent probe into the circumstances of Sgt (1) Go’s death, and will apprise the coroner of its findings.

“SCDF will seek to understand what had happened, including if standard operating procedures and protocols had been followed, and how these may need to be tightened to keep the officers as safe as possible when they serve our nation,” Prof Faishal added.

It was previously reported that Sgt (1) Go had fallen unconscious in the kitchen area of the Henderson Road flat while fighting the fire there, and he was taken out of the unit by his crew members, who tried to resuscitate him.

He was later taken to Singapore General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The NSF had enlisted in the SCDF on Jan 5, 2022, and had aspirations to enrol in medical school upon completion of his national service.

It was previously reported that he was certified medically fit before his enlistment, and categorised as PES A under the physical employment standard (PES).

Servicemen under this category are considered suitable for frontline operational vocations.

After enlisting, he trained as a firefighter for 12 weeks, from Feb 3 until April 28. He was then posted to the Central Fire Station on May 4, and responded to more than 20 fire and rescue incidents before his death.

On Monday, Prof Faishal said all SCDF NSFs need to be certified medically fit and be categorised as PES A, B1, or B2, to be deployed as firefighters.

They will also need to complete a four-week Basic Rescue Training, as well as a 12-week Firefighter Course (FFC), held at the Civil Defence Academy (CDA).

The FFC includes both theoretical and practical components, and a series of proficiency and certification tests, including the IPPT, Breathing Apparatus Proficiency Test, Hazmat Responder Certification Test and Firemanship Skills Assessment.

Prof Faishal said firefighting training at the CDA is conducted with live fire simulators to provide realism, so that trainees gain experience operating in conditions similar to real-life firefighting. Meanwhile, SCDF has protocols to ensure that the training curriculum is reviewed regularly to ensure currency.

All firefighting personal protective equipment used by SCDF is also certified according to relevant international standards, such as the American National Fire Protection Association standards and European standards, he added.