Sunday 19 August 2012

SCDF issues more fines and notices in H1, 2012

By Olivia Siong, Channel NewsAsia, 17 Aug 2012

More fines and warnings have been issued to those who changed the use of their property without permission - a move that could turn their premises into fire hazards.

The number issued by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) jumped by 36.2 per cent in the first half of the year.

The SCDF dealt with 861 cases involving changes in the way premises were used.

These include houses that were converted into dormitories on the quiet to pack in more than eight workers.

40 per cent were residential properties, in areas such as Joo Chiat and Geylang.

The Notice of Fire Safety Offence (NFSO) carries a composition fine between S$300 and S$500.

Assistant director of SCDF's Operations Department, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Daniel Seet, said: "Our primary concern is in the area of the fire safety provisions laid out in the original plans which may be inadequate for the new purposes or intent. So this is something that we require the property owner to come back to the SCDF for an approval process, so we can enforce this properly."

The number of fires for both residential and non-residential premises also fell.

Fires in residential premises fell by 3 per cent and fires in non-residential areas fell by 1.1 per cent.

Another priority is fighting residential fires linked to items dumped in common areas.

They remain the second most common cause of residential fires though, the number of fires attributed to discarded items fell marginally by 3.2 per cent.

One such fire was in Marsiling in May, when 11 were injured, including two children, who suffered from smoke inhalation.

Rubbish fires continue to be the leading cause at 42.2 per cent of residential fires and the SCDF is stepping up efforts to fix the problem.

LTC Seet said: "What the SCDF has done is to issue guidelines on the use of common areas to town councils to aid them in estate management. But also a new initiative we'll be rolling out very soon will be fire safety advisories in our residential estates in the form of stickers on lift doors. So we hope that by doing so, we'll be able to remind residents to immediately take action and call their town councils to remove discarded items that they see in their common areas."

On the bright side, the number of fires the SCDF responded to hit its lowest in more than 10 years.

SCDF responded to 2,191 fires from January to June this year.

The average number of fires for the first six months in the last ten years is 2,482 cases.

SCDF responded to 70,129 ambulance calls in the first half of the year. And while this is an increase compared to the same period last year, the number of non-emergency calls has fallen to an all-time low.

SCDF has attributed this to better public awareness and stepped up public education efforts.

SCDF also registered an increase of 7.5 per cent in the number of ambulance calls it attended to in the first half of the year.

Non-emergency calls made up 1.6 per cent.

Emergency calls saw an increase of 8.1 per cent and made up 96.2 per cent of total calls.

SCDF also plans to relocate some of its fire posts and establish a few new ones by the end of next year.

These include new areas such as Sembawang and Dover which have seen an increase in population.

Fire posts were introduced in 2000 to expand the number of operational bases from which resources can be dispatched.

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