Written Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Root Cause of Fire at Pulau Busing by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 09 July 2018

Assoc Prof Fatimah Lateef: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what is the root cause of the fire at Pulau Busing; (b) whether it could have been prevented; and (c) whether there are suitable capabilities on the island itself for handling such emergencies or is there a need to mobilise emergency resources from the mainland.



1. Investigations into the oil storage tank fire at Pulau Busing are on-going. Preliminary findings indicate that the fire was caused by a lightning strike on the rooftop of the tank.


2. The Fire Code requires oil storage tanks to have a lightning protection system. The SCDF is investigating why the system seemed to have failed in this case.


3. The first responders to the fire were the company’s Company Emergency Response Team, also known as CERT, stationed on Pulau Busing itself. Under the Fire Safety Act, companies storing more than five metric tonnes of petroleum and flammable materials are required to form a CERT. CERT members are trained in fire-fighting, rescue and first aid and are the first responders to fight the fire, before SCDF arrives. Companies are also required to provide a suite of fire-fighting systems and equipment. These include fixed and mobile fire-fighting monitors, foam-pouring protection systems, and water pumps. These regulatory measures helped to contain the Pulau Busing fire.


4. The CERT managed to prevent the spread of the fire before SCDF arrived. During the fire, other companies on neighbouring islands also provided resources to help fight the fire. This is part of the industry-led Emergency Mutual Aid scheme.


5. This was a large-scale fire and SCDF had to mount a complex operation to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent oil tanks, and to extinguish it. The SCDF deployed 128 SCDF personnel, and 48 firefighting and support vehicles. Special large monitors that discharge 23,000 litres of foam solution per minute were deployed to fight the fire. Specific fire appliances to cool the adjacent oil tanks were also deployed. The fire was extinguished only after six hours.


Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness
Law and order