Published: 06 February 2018
Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the Ministry will (i) conduct a review of the sufficiency of the Fire Code and effectiveness of fire safety measures following the HDB fire in Toa Payoh on 10 January 2018 and (ii) consider including in the Fire code additional requirements such as the installation of central fire alarm systems and the provision of fire extinguishers at every HDB block.
1. SCDF's investigation into the fire at the Toa Payoh HDB flat is ongoing. SCDF was alerted to the fire at 9.40am that day and it was put out by SCDF at about 10.00am. There were no casualties. Preliminary findings are that the fire was likely of an electrical origin.
2. The fire was contained in the unit where it started and did not spread to other units. This is because under our Fire Code, all residential units are designed as fire compartments, typically using fire-resistant walls and floors, and fire-rated main entrance doors, to mitigate fire spread. The Fire Code also requires residential buildings to have an adequate number of exit staircases. There are also requirements relating to fire engine access and water rising mains, to facilitate fire-fighting operations. The effectiveness of these elements of the Fire Code were seen in this fire.
3. SCDF regularly reviews the Fire Code together with stakeholders from other Government agencies, the industry and academia.
4. In this regard, SCDF will be introducing the eighth edition of the Fire Code later this year. As previously announced, this edition will include a new requirement for all new residential units, and residential units undergoing works which impact fire safety, to install Home Fire Alarm Devices (HFADs). HFADs sound an alarm when smoke is detected. It provides early warning to the occupants of the affected unit, so that they can take immediate steps to evacuate or extinguish the fire. SCDF and HDB will also be providing HFADs for existing rental units under HDB's Public Rental Scheme, at no cost to the tenants.
5. As for fire extinguishers, HDB installs them in community spaces in common areas, in rooms housing utilities services and in commercial facilities. The SCDF encourages the installation of fire extinguishers in homes on a voluntary basis, instead of making it mandatory, as they are expensive and difficult to maintain. If necessary, residents can also use the hose reels that are provided in the common areas of HDB blocks to put out incipient fires
 These rooms house common building utilities such as water supply, communications and electrical equipment.