Published: 10 January 2023
Ms Denise Phua Lay Peng: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs how effective are the actions taken over the last five years in addressing the top causes of fires, especially at residential premises.
Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) among the recent spate of home fires, whether there are increasing cases of electrical related fires; and (b) what further preventive measures can be put in place to tackle fires related to electrical appliances and devices.
Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development:
1. Mr Speaker, with your permission, may I take oral question 13 and also a PQ filed for subsequent Sitting by Ms Denise Phua. The number of fires in residential premises has been steadily decreasing, from 1,235 cases in 2018 to 934 cases in 2022.
2. The main causes of these fires were unattended cooking, the indiscriminate disposal of lighted materials such as cigarette butts, and fires of electrical origin that could be caused by faulty electrical appliances or wirings.
3. The number of residential fires of electrical origin has remained constant from 2018 to 2022, ranging between 250 and 300 cases annually.
4. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), in partnership with the People’s Association, the National Fire and Emergency Preparedness Council (NFEC) and the Community Emergency and Engagement Committees, has been organising a series of Community Resilience Days in the heartlands to raise the level of fire safety awareness among residents. SCDF has also been working with the NFEC and the Housing & Development Board to educate new homeowners on fire safety and emergency preparedness through the MyNiceHome Roadshows. After a residential fire, SCDF will conduct door-to-door engagements with the residents of the affected block to share fire safety tips. This includes distributing brochures which advise on preventing battery and personal mobility device (PMD) fires.
5. SCDF regularly reviews the Fire Code, which stipulates the fire safety requirements for buildings in Singapore. For example, since June 2018, SCDF has required all new residential premises to be installed with Home Fire Alarm Devices (HFADs).
6. Homeowners also have a critical role to play. They can prevent household electrical fires by only using electrical equipment that are certified safe such as UL2272 certified PMDs and plugs bearing the SAFETY MARK, switching off appliances when not in use, and ensuring that wires are in good condition. For residential premises built before June 2018 and therefore not mandated to install HFADs, homeowners are encouraged to install them nevertheless.
7. SCDF will continue to work with partners to increase public awareness of fire prevention and how residents may stay safe in the event of a fire at home.