Month-long commercial and industrial building fire drill campaign returns after 2-year hiatus due to Covid-19

SINGAPORE — A worker trying to retrieve supplies has fainted after being engulfed in smoke from a fire that broke out in the supply room of a ward on the 10th floor of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

A nurse who saw heavy smoke billowing from the room alerted the fire department and activated the fire alarm, prompting five members of the Yishun Health Emergency Response Team (Cert) to to act.

Using a fire extinguisher, they attempted to contain the fire, which was caused by an electrical fault, before the arrival of the Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF).

About 550 people, including hospital staff, were evacuated.

This scenario was part of a simulation during the launch of the annual mass fire evacuation drill on Thursday.

After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Thursday’s event marked the start of a month-long campaign organized by the National Fire and Emergency Preparedness Council in conjunction with the SCDF to promote the fire prevention and emergency preparedness.

Fire drills will be held in September at approximately 310 commercial and industrial buildings, involving more than 58,000 participants.

During Thursday’s exercise, the horizontal evacuation was carried out first, with participants being quickly evacuated to an adjacent ward on the same floor via a crossover. This is particularly important in the context of hospitals, which may accommodate patients with reduced mobility.

A vertical evacuation was then carried out, with participants using the stairs and elevators to congregate in designated assembly areas.

Mr. Muhammad Fariz Mohd Noor, one of the five Cert members involved in the exercise, said the team undergoes monthly refresher courses and two exercises a year to maintain operational readiness.

He said: “Cert’s responsibility is to respond to any emergency and contain the situation until help from the authorities arrives.”

Marjorie N. McClure