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Home » » News » Total number of fires in 2012 remained low but fires involving discarded items still a concern
Published: 08 Feb 2013 11:10AM
By Joanne Yan


Watch where you discard! About one in four residential fires was caused by discarded items at the HDB estate’s common areas. 18 persons were injured from such fires in 2012. This was revealed when the Singapore Civil Defence Force released their annual fire incident statistics on 7 Feb 2013.

SCDF responded to a total of 4,485 fires in 2012, 53.5% was caused by “dropped light” such as lighted cigarette butts, embers from charcoal, lighted incense and matchsticks. PHOTO: Matthew Wong.

Discarding combustible items such as furniture and newspapers can easily fuel fires when lighted materials such as cigarette butts are thrown onto them.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) says these fires have the potential to be more dangerous because of the high fire load and its proximity to homes.

In 2012, almost a quarter of all residential fires involved discarded items at common areas such as corridors, lift lobbies, staircases and void decks.

This was revealed in SCDF’s annual fire incident statistics.

The Marsiling road fire on 4 May 2012 was one example of the damaging effects of such hazards.

The lift lobby fire involving discarded items resulted in 11 people injured from smoke inhalation.

SCDF had to break into 18 other units to rescue and evacuate seven other residents.

In addition to being a fire hazard, discarded items that clutter common spaces such as corridors can obstruct fire-fighting and evacuation efforts during emergencies.

To instil more public awareness, SCDF’s community engagement initiatives in 2012 included a Vertical Stretcher Challenge where secondary school students carried a dummy casualty across an obstacle filled corridor to save the casualty’s life.

Such activities help stress the importance of keeping corridors clutter free.

To raise awareness, the SCDF has been working closely with the National Fire & Civil Emergency Preparedness Council (NFEC), Housing Development Board (HDB), Town Councils and the Community Emergency and Engagement Committees (C2E).

Together with these community partners, SCDF will be putting up lift door stickers with fire safety advisory messages.

Such safety tips will also be aired on radio in the four national languages.

“It (stickers) is more pictorial and less text so that the objective is to visually remind the residents that they shoud not discard items,” said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Abdul Razak ,SCDF’s Public Affairs Department Director.

“This is not only confined to residential areas, this (trend) is also related to multi-storey carparks, commercial premises, social and communal areas. But we are tackling residential fires first as this is the rising trend,” he added.

While discarded fires remain a concern, the overall number of fire incidents saw a marginal increase of 0.3% from 4470 fires in 2011 to 4,485 in 2012.

The figure is lower than the yearly average of 4,998 fires over the last 15 years.

Fires at eating establishments and multi-story carparks made up 27.7% of the 328 fire cases in commercial premises in 2012. 

Unattended cooking appliances, ovens and stoves were the main causes of eating establishment fires with 12 people injured in such fires.


Jan-Dec 2011

Jan-Dec 2012

Absolute Change

% Change

Eating Establishments(canteens/coffee shops/hawker centres)





Multi-Storey Car Parks










Shopping Complexes





Hotels/Hostels/Boarding Houses





From left to right: Col Lian Wee Teck, Director of Central Enforcement Department, LTC A. Razak Abdul Raheem, Director of Public Affairs Department, Col Anwar Abdullah, Director Operations Department and LTC (Dr) Ng Yih Yng, Director of Medical Department released the 2012 Fire incident and Emergency Ambulance statistics. PHOTO: Matthew Wong

The mandatory Company Emergency Response Team (CERT) scheme was launched in 2005 to help industries dealing with large quantities of petroleum and flammable materials.

The programme has been seeing results.

Fires in industrial premises registered a drop of 17.6% to 145 cases in 2012 compared to 2011.

In 2012, CERTs successfully extinguished fires in 13 cases before SCDF arrived at the scene.

To better enhance the preparedness level of commercial and industrial areas, SCDF will extend the mandatory CERT scheme later in 2013 to include buildings such as hotels, hospitals, offices and factories.

Taking firm action on fire safety violations, SCDF conducts regular enforcement checks to ensure that fire hazards are rectified.

A total of 13,192 checks were conducted in 2012, a 10.1% increase from the previous year.

For a safer Singapore, SCDF encourages more Singaporeans to call 1800-280-0000 to report on fire hazards and help reduce fire occurrences.

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