Commissioner Eric Yap,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon.
2. Thank you for inviting me to join you for the official opening of the new Jurong Fire Station.
Rich History of Jurong Fire Station
3. My first memory of firefighters is as a five year-old living in Joo Chiat. My family lived in a modest shophouse and we were surrounded by wooden housing. It was not uncommon to be woken up in the middle night by my Popo because a fire had broken out nearby. For our own safety, we would evacuate and wait in the open air in case the fire spread to our row of houses.
4. It was always exciting to see the firefighters, especially as they got their equipment ready. As a child, I had no idea how dangerous their jobs were. By the time we moved to Bedok in the 1980s, these fires were a thing of the past. In those years in between, outbreaks of fires were brought down significantly.
5. But low incidence does not mean no incidence. As building designs and the kinds of things housed in buildings have changed, a lot more electronics, some data centres use a lot of power. As all of these things have become part and parcel of commercial buildings and industrial buildings, challenges have evolved and so too have fire hazards. To keep Singapore and Singaporeans safe, SCDF must continue to upgrade its capabilities. It must have the ability to respond to fire incidents quickly and effectively. The completion of the new Jurong Fire Station is part of a larger plan to enhance SCDF's response and to keep its capabilities up to date.
6. In fact, Jurong Fire Station is not new. It has an illustrious, rich and long history, dating back to the days of the Singapore Fire Service. Before moving to its current location, the station had operated at 25 Boon Lay Drive for more than 40 years. It was opened on 12 November 1975 by one of Singapore's founding fathers, the late Mr Othman Wok.
7. The old Jurong Fire Station at Boon Lay Drive also housed the Jurong Fire Training School, where generations of firefighters underwent rigorous training and honed their life-saving skills. Some of the pioneers were trained there, and I will say more about these brave officers later on.
Key Highlights of the New Jurong Fire Station
8. Anyone who is familiar with Jurong would know that it has transformed, and it will continue to transform. It is embarking on its next phase of development, which will include the development of the Wenya Industrial Estate, the Jurong Lake District and the Lakeside leisure precinct. These developments mean more people working and living here, and will increase the operational demands on SCDF's emergency services in the area.
9. The new Jurong Fire Station will therefore ensure that SCDF can continue to deliver prompt and effective emergency services in the future.
10. The station's fleet of emergency vehicles will include the new Fire Medical Vehicle, or FMV, which integrates firefighting, rescue and medical capabilities into a single, compact platform. It enables firefighters cross-trained in emergency medical services to provide early medical assistance to injured persons.
11. Even as the SCDF enhances its operational capabilities, it is also striving to be an innovative and environmentally-responsible organisation. The station was awarded BCA's Green Mark Gold label for its use of environmentally-friendly construction materials, water-efficient facilities, and energy efficient systems.
12. It will be a model for future fire stations as well as older fire stations that are due for upgrading.
Partnership with the Community
13. Over the years, the SCDF has established a comprehensive network of fire stations and fire posts at strategic locations across Singapore. This has enabled the SCDF to maintain a high level of operational effectiveness and readiness.
14. Even so, the community has a role to play, so that overall, as a nation, we can be even more effective in dealing with emergencies and saving lives. Members of the public who pick up first aid skills can provide the initial response in a medical emergency while waiting for SCDF to arrive. Such early intervention could be what makes a difference between a life saved and a life lost. Think about it when that life is one of your family members or and friends. Through its public outreach efforts such as the Emergency Preparedness Days and Community Emergency Preparedness Programme, SCDF is training the community in basic first aid, fire-fighting and other lifesaving skills. I would strongly encourage all of you to participate in these training provided by SCDF.
15. Indeed, the strong partnership between the Home Team and the community has been one of the key reasons underlying Singapore's safety and security. With the rising threat of terrorism, such community participation in Singapore's safety and security, in particular through SGSecure, will become even more important.
16. I started by sharing with you my first recollection of firefighters. I would like to end by paying tribute to all of them. Over the years, Singapore has been blessed with no fewer than 16,000 firefighters who have at one time or another put their lives on the line to keep us safe from fire, willingly, with commitment and pride, to protect Singapore and Singaporeans. Some of them dedicated their entire working lives to this noble profession.
17. Take for example, SWO Md Salleh Ali who joined the Singapore Fire Service when he was 17 years old. Throughout his career, he had been part of the SCDF elite teams including the Rescue Squad during the mid-1970s, MRT Strike Force in the late 1980s and the Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) in the early 1990s. SWO Md Salleh Ali was deployed for SCDF's first Ops Lionheart mission to Baguio, Philippines as well as the Hotel New World collapse. He was presented an award by then President Wee Kim Wee for his efforts. Today, he is the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) at the Civil Defence Academy (CDA).
18. Then, there is Senior Warrant Officer Jerry Chia from the 4th Firefighter course of 1977 – a full 40 years ago! After NS, with his passion and desire to serve ignited, he signed on and it became his lifelong career.
19. A few years later, WO Koh Ser Teck enlisted in 1981 and was among the pioneer batches of NSFs who trained at the Jurong Fire Training School. His batchmates and him carried hoses on their shoulders and ran up the tower as part of their daily morning training session. When they reached the top of the tower, they had to shout, 'Good morning, Jurong Fire Station!'." What wonderful memories.
20. Well, we are so glad that all three men are here today .The new Jurong Fire Station says "Good Afternoon" to all of you, and the generations of firefighters who have served Singapore and Singaporeans with commitment and pride. From all of us, thank you for your service to the nation, we are so indebted to you.
21. I congratulate the SCDF team that planned and implemented this project. You did it on time, on budget. Well done!. I have great pleasure in declaring the new Jurong Fire Station officially open. Thank you.