14 Jan 2013

Fire Safety Act Amended To Enhance Enforcement Framework

 
 

Introduction

                    The Fire Safety (Amendment) Bill was introduced for First Reading at the Parliamentary Sitting on 14 Jan 2013.
  
Background

2.                    The Fire Safety Act (FSA) was enacted in 1993 as the main legislative instrument to ensure the fire safety of buildings in Singapore. It was last amended in 2004 to implement a performance-based regulatory system and extend regulatory control over the import, storage and transport of non-petroleum flammable materials. The current Bill seeks to strengthen the operational effectiveness of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and raise the fire safety standards of buildings and premises in Singapore.

Key Proposed Amendments

(a) Enhance the enforcement framework

3.                     Amendments will be made to refine the conditions for the imposition of the Commissioner’s Closure Order (CCO). With the amendments, Commissioner, SCDF can issue a CCO to order the owner or occupier of a premise to close the premises for a period not exceeding 72 hours, should there be failure to put in place abatement measures to comply with fire safety requirements despite repeated warnings. This is to ensure the safety of persons within the premises. In addition, Commissioner SCDF will be given the authority to impose the CCO on offenders that have a poor track record. This will send a strong signal to recalcitrant offenders.

4.                    Penalties will also be increased for offences such as unauthorised fire safety works, failure to supervise fire safety works, non-compliance with demolition orders, removal of unauthorised fire safety works as well as non-compliance with closure orders. The proposed increase in penalties will bring these in line with the penalties for similar offences under the Building Control Act as listed below.

Offences
Current Penalties
Proposed Increase
Unauthorised fire safety works
  •  Maximum ceiling $50,000
  • Imprisonment up to 12 months
  • Maximum ceiling $200,000
  • Imprisonment up to 24 months
Failure to supervise fire safety works
  • Maximum ceiling $50,000
  • Imprisonment up to 12 months
  • Continuing offence $1,000
     
  • Maximum ceiling $200,000
  • Imprisonment up to 24 months
  • Continuing offence $2,000
Non-compliance with demolition orders, removal of unauthorised fire safety works
  • Maximum ceiling $10,000
  • Imprisonment up to 6 months
  • Continuing offence $500
  • Maximum ceiling $100,000
  • Imprisonment up to 12 months
  • Continuing offence $1,000
Non-compliance with closure orders
  • Maximum ceiling $10,000
  • Imprisonments up to 6 months
  • Continuing offence $500
  • Maximum ceiling $100,000
  • Imprisonment up to 12 months
  • Continuing offence $1,000

(b) Improve Fire Safety Provisions

5.                  Designated buildings that currently have Fire Emergency Plans will be required to put in place “Emergency Response Plans”. This will require owners of designated buildings to cater for all emergencies, apart from fires, that may cause injury or the loss of lives. For designated buildings with Fire Safety Managers (FSMs), the FSMs will be required to ensure that the response plan guidelines are complied with, including upgrading the competencies of in-house teams to form Company Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).

(c) Enhance Investigative Powers 

6.                 The new investigative powers will allow SCDF’s officers to take samples of substances and other materials from the scene of an incident.  SCDF will also be able to retrieve documents necessary as evidence for fire investigation. The scope of SCDF’s investigative powers will be extended beyond premises to include means of transportation such as vehicles, vessels and aircrafts.

(d) Regulate pipelines conveying Petroleum and Flammable Materials (P&FM)

7.                 SCDF officers are currently authorised to carry out inspections, audit checks and enforcement actions in relation to the import, storage and transport of Petroleum and Flammable Materials (P&FM). The amendments will extend the licensing regime to pipelines conveying P&FM, and also allow SCDF to stipulate precautionary requirements for contractors who conduct earthworks in the vicinity of licensed P&FM pipelines.

(e) Empower SCDF to conduct marine fire-fighting and rescue functions
 
8.                 Marine fire-fighting and rescue functions were transferred from the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) to SCDF on 1 Apr 2012. The amendments give effect to these transfers of functions and empower SCDF officers to board vessels so as to conduct fire-fighting and rescue operations. SCDF will also be given powers to request for fire safety provisions, information and materials to facilitate the fire-fighting and rescue operations on board vessels at sea.

Issued by:
MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

Last Updated on 26 Feb 2015
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