Published: 07 May 2019
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) over the past three years, how many fires have there been involving our conserved or heritage buildings; (b) how does the Ministry ensure that there is adequate protection for such older structures; and (c) what are the measures in place to ensure that renovation or alterations made to such structures are carried out safely and properly supervised.
1. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responded to 104 fires involving conserved buildings from 2016 to 2018.
2. When existing buildings, including conserved buildings, undergo upgrading works, they must comply with the requirements in the prevailing Fire Code, which stipulates fire safety requirements for buildings. SCDF regularly reviews the Fire Code to ensure that it keeps up with changes in the built environment and developments in fire safety. The Fire Code was last updated in 2018.
3. The Fire Code has specific provisions to ensure better fire protection for conserved buildings. For example, conserved shophouses with timber flooring are required to install fire-rated floor boards to prevent the spread of fire between floors, as well as fire alarms within the premises.
4. SCDF recognises that older buildings, including conserved buildings, which have not undergone upgrading works over time may face higher safety risks, as they are then not obliged to comply with the latest Fire Code. The Ministry will be amending the Fire Safety Act later this year, to require owners of such buildings to carry out critical fire safety upgrades if assessed to be necessary.
5. The Member also asked what is done to ensure that upgrading works for conserved buildings are properly carried out. In all upgrading works, the appointed registered architects or professional engineers, also known as Qualified Persons, are responsible for ensuring compliance with the Fire Code. An independent Registered Inspector will inspect the building when the works are completed, to ensure that the fire safety requirements have been met. In addition, SCDF conducts random audits and inspections.