As a young girl, third-generation firefighter MAJ Nurhamizah Anwar often visited her father at Serangoon Fire Station during the annual Family Day event. Those visits invoked a sense of familial warmth that eventually led her to join the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). We speak with MAJ Nurhamizah and her father, SSG Anwar, as they reminisced about the early days.
When and why did you both join SCDF?
GRAPHICS: Dayana Yakob; PHOTOS: Nurhamizah
I joined the then Singapore Fire Service in 1986 as I was interested in following the footsteps of my father, who was a firefighter at Port of Singapore Authority.
I joined SCDF in 2010, after graduating with a degree in Life Sciences from the National University of Singapore
. I was looking for an exciting job that combines my National Cadet Corps experience with my interest in sports from my dragon-boating days in university. SCDF responded to my application and the rest is history.
Besides your sporty nature, has your father, in any way, inspired you to join SCDF?
Certainly so! As a young girl, my father often took my sister and I to Serangoon Fire Station, where he was posted as a Fire and Rescue Specialist then, for its annual Family Days.
There were many cohesion activities – from tele-matches to karaoke and colouring contests – for the whole family. I vividly recall sitting at the tables set up at the open drill yard colouring my fireman and his fire engine.
Yeah, they were very excited to see the fire equipment and would eagerly participate in the various activities organised by the fire station.
No matter how many times I visited the fire station, I was never tired of sitting in a fire engine pretending to be a firefighter. Occasionally, a fire call to mobilise the responders would put a halt to the activities, a call to duty that was pure exhilaration for my younger self. I witnessed my father and the fathers of other children springing into action, jumping into the fire engine, and speeding away with the sirens blaring.
We also formed a close bond with the families of my father’s colleagues, and I felt a strong sense of belonging, which played a huge part in shaping my interest for SCDF.
Was Dad supportive of your choice to become a firefighter?
To my surprise, that decision was met with reluctance as he was concerned if I could manage the unyielding nature of the job, which he experienced first-hand through many rescue and fire incidents.
I was surprised as I did not expect her to sign up for a career in firefighting, having studied life sciences. I warned her that firefighting is tough, and she must be careful in everything that she does.
My father is a man of a few words, but during my nine-month training at the Civil Defence Academy, he would never fail to drive me to and fro every week. During my Rota Commander Course Commissioning Parade, my father donned my new rank for me, and I felt him swelling with pride that day.
Indeed, I’m proud of her. Besides my dad, my elder brother is also a retired SCDF firefighter, and my daughter continues our family heritage as a firefighter.
Will you encourage your grandchildren to become firefighters when they grow up?
I will let them follow their interests! Of course, I’m happy if they want to contribute to saving lives when they grow up.
It is still too early to tell what my two young daughters, aged six and eight, wish to do when they grow up. But whenever they read or hear about Home Team-related news in their daily lives, I’ll make it a point to engage them about it. They love it when I share with them stories about my duties as an Honorary Aide-De-Camp to the President of Singapore
. No matter which career path they choose to pursue, they will always have our support.
What would you like to say to your dad this Father’s Day?
Thank you for your strong support that has given me the freedom to pursue my interests boldly. It has helped me push through my school days and even my current career with SCDF. I am filled with pride when fellow officers who have worked with you share anecdotes of your character and work ethics. You are and will always be my hero.
Read Part 2 of Like Father, Like Daughter (SPF)