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SCDF Officers’ Relentless 15-hour Fight Against Fire at Tampines
Some 110 firefighters from the Singapore Civil Defence Force responded to the fire that broke out at CK Building on 17 August.

For some, it was their first major fire fight, but they refused to let anxiety and adrenaline affect their goal – to save lives and minimise property damage. Some 110 firefighters from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responded to the fire that broke out at CK Building on 17 August. It took the SCDF 15 hours to extinguish the flames, with men and women from the SCDF charging through the night to keep the blaze under control.

It was the largest number of SCDF officers to be engaged this year. Among those deployed were Full-time National Servicemen (NSF) and active regulars, who worked side-by-side tirelessly around the clock to keep the flames under control. National Servicemen Sergeant (Sgt) Muhammad Hidir Bin Jamaludin, Lance Corporal (LCpl) Yeep Chia Ming and LCpl Kalidass S/O Veliappan were among the first to arrive at the scene. For the three of them, it was to be their first time responding to a fire of this magnitude.

“My first thoughts were whether there were any casualties trapped inside, because that is the first priority and we have to get everyone out,” Sgt (NSF) Muhammad Hidir said.

Sgt (NSF) Muhammad Hidir is an Emergency Response Specialist at Tampines Fire Station, which was the station that was closest to the CK Building. As one of the first to arrive, he led a team of firefighters into the burning building with door-breaking equipment to establish entry onto the floors that were on fire.

“We attempted to fight the fire first. We were breaking a door and the fire got worse from the inside. Next thing we knew, we were ordered to retreat as the fire was overwhelming. That’s when it happened,” the 22-year-old said.

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SGT (NSF) Muhammad Hidir Bin Jamaludin led the first sectionn of firefighters into the building to fight the fire. After about 30 minutes, he experienced an onset of giddiness and was conveyed to Changi General Hospital. PHOTO: Melvin Mak

After 30 minutes of manning a water jet alongside his team of five men, which comprised both NSF and regulars, Sgt (NSF) Muhammad Hidir experienced a sudden onset of giddiness. At the same time, amid rapidly increasing heat intensity as well as sounds of unknown explosions within the building, his team decided to head back outside. Carrying the bulk of the equipment, the members of his team helped Sgt (NSF) Muhammad Hidir outside where he could be examined by the paramedics.

He was semi-conscious when he was helped to a safe area away from the building, and had suffered from heat exhaustion. Sgt (NSF) Muhammad Hidir was later conveyed to Changi General Hospital, where he was discharged on the same day.

That afternoon, LCpl (NSF) Yeep had arrived from Changi Fire Station, and was tasked with securing water for the fire engines.

This was the 19-year-old firefighter’s first major fire, and he needed to move fast to make sure there was water supplying from the hydrants to the fire engines. Like Sgt (NSF) Muhammad Hidir, LCpl (NSF) Yeep was among the first to arrive at the fire.

“When I arrived, I saw black smoke on the first floor. The fire was very big, my goal was to set up the water as fast as possible,” LCpl (NSF) Yeep said. After completing his task, LCpl (NSF) Yeep began fighting fire from the ground floor to make sure the fire didn’t spread beyond CK building.

He encountered falling debris in the process, which resulted in first and second degree burns and blisters on his upper back. Keen to fight on, LCpl (NSF) Yeep wanted to continue despite his injuries.

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LCpl (NSF) Yeep suffered minor burns and blisters after he was hit by falling debris while fighting fires from the ground floor. He continued to remain on-site to help distribute and prepare food and water for his colleagues. PHOTO: Christopher Chen

 

“I wanted to help out a bit more, because I have the driving force to do that - to fight fire. They (his superiors) allowed me to stay on but they didn’t allow me to fight the fire,” LCpl (NSF) Yeep said. LCpl (NSF) Yeep stayed on at the scene to help prepare and distribute food and water to his comrades after taking a short rest.

“To save people and save lives, I feel very good,” he added.

LCpl (NSF) Kalidass arrived from Changi Fire Station around the same time as LCpl (NSF) Yeep, and assigned to the fire floor via a staircase to fight the fire.

“It was my first fire, so I was very excited, also anxious,” the 21-year-old said.

His first major fire since he enlisted, LCpl (NSF) Kalidass began to feel breathless after his team was withdrawn from the fire floor due to increasing temperatures and sounds of unknown explosions inside the building.

“Compared to training time, the real scenario is actually totally different, because during training the fire is controlled. This is a live fire so it really hurt. I felt giddy so we had to go back downstairs,” he added.

LCpl (NSF) Kalidass was diagnosed with heat exhaustion, and was given the option to sit out. However, after a short rest and hydration, he asked to resume the fire fight.

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LCpl(NSF) Kalidass was given the option to sit out, but he returned to fight the fire after short rest and hydration. PHOTO: Melvin Mak

 

“I had the option to stop, but like any normal human being, you want to help people. Being a fire fighter, you feel the urge to help even more. You want to save the property and you don’t want to it to be damaged,” he added.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Mr Desmond Lee and Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Mr Amrin Amin visited Tampines Fire Station on 9 September to thank some of the firefighters.

“What you all did in the CK fire is not training, it is actual operations. You’re on the frontline and what you do will play a role in keeping Singapore safe. And what you do saves lives, protects property, so it is very admirable,” Mr Lee said.

They were joined by Ms Ang Wei Xia, daughter of myCK store chain founder Mr Ang Chin Koon and a Director at CK Holdings Pte Ltd. The CK Building at Tampines Street 92 housed the warehouse, head office and training facility for store chain myCK.

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Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Mr Amrin Amin (left) and Senior Minister of State Mr Desmond Lee pose as Sgt (NSF) Muhammad Hidir (second from left) receives a 'thank you' card from Ms Ang Wei Xia (middle), a director from myCK. Photo: Christopher Chen

 

At the reception, Ms Ang presented a ‘thank you’ card to the SCDF and another to Sgt (NSF) Muhammad Hidir in appreciation to their hard work and efforts in extinguishing the fire.

“It feels good to give back to society. It feels good when you can help people out. You can help to save properties and lives, and at the same time test your own capability, and that is a lot to me” Sgt (NSF) Muhammad Hidir said.

© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Desmond Ang
  2. 13 September 2016
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