Published: 11 July 2016
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many residential fires happened in the first four months of this year; (b) whether this is higher or lower than the number of residential fires reported over the same period of the last two years; (c) what are the main cause of the recent residential fires; (d) what is SCDF doing to increase awareness on preventing residential fires; and (e) what percentage of homes currently own a fire extinguisher.
1. Madam Speaker, there were 955 residential fires in the first four months of 2016, about 6% and 10% lower than the same period in 2015 and 2014 respectively.
2. About 98% of the residential fires this year are small-scale fires which did not result in casualties. About 50% of these fires were caused by the indiscriminate disposal of lighted materials, such as lighted cigarettes and charcoal embers, down the rubbish chute or into rubbish bins at common areas. Unattended cooking, which accounted for about 20% of the recent residential fires, is the second main cause.
3. A large number of residential fires can therefore be prevented with better awareness of fire safety at home. To increase awareness, the SCDF actively promotes fire safety and public education messages through community-based programmes and initiatives. Residents participate in fire drills at Emergency Preparedness Day Events, and learn emergency preparedness skills such as operating a fire extinguisher when they take part in the Community Emergency Preparedness Programme. The SCDF also disseminates fire safety advisories to homes, and regularly collaborates with grassroots organisations to include articles on fire hazards and fire safety tips in their newsletters and magazines.
4. The SCDF does not monitor the percentage of homes that currently own a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are sold by private vendors who are not required to report their sales to the SCDF. However, the SCDF encourages each household to be equipped with a fire extinguisher to be prepared for fire emergencies. This message is regularly emphasised through SCDF's community-based initiatives as well as in fire safety advisories.