Published: 16 August 2016
Mr Alan Loh, Chairman, National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council,
Commissioner Eric Yap, Singapore Civil Defence Force,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good morning.
2. As I watched the "NFEC's 30 years of serving the Nation" video, I realised that while the fashion (attire don by the NFEC members) has changed, the messages by the NFEC has always been the same - be safe from fires - but constantly updated and refreshed over the years so as remain relevant. This is my main take away from the video.
3. I am pleased to be here today for the Fire Safety Seminar. This is the ninth year that the National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council is organising this event. I am encouraged that participation rates have steadily increased over the years. This is a useful platform for industry practitioners to share experiences, exchange insights, and stay updated on the latest developments that relate to fire safety and emergency preparedness.
4. I would also like to congratulate the NFEC on its 30th anniversary. Since its inception in 1986, the NFEC has now become a well-established Council of the Home Team. Comprising both public and private sector members, the NFEC has played a key role raising awareness and preparing the community for fires and civil emergencies. Besides organising high-key events such as the Fire Safety Asia Conference and the annual month-long Mass Fire Evacuation Drill, the NFEC also organises programmes for our homes, schools, and workplaces to champion both fire safety and emergency preparedness efforts. In fact, these two core areas of the NFEC's work are critical components of the recently-launched SG Secure national movement. I will elaborate on this in the later part of my speech.
More should be done to enhance fire safety in our homes and workplaces, which includes preventing fires caused by electrical hazards.
5. The theme for today's seminar is "Keep Electrical Hazards at Bay for a Fire Safe Environment" – a simple message, but also a very important one. In 2015, SCDF responded to over 4,600 fires. Electrical hazards were the second highest contributor to these fires. Fires due to electrical hazards have risen sharply by 60 per cent over the past decade, from 400 cases in 2006 to 640 cases in 2015.
6. Besides causing damage to property, fires can lead to the disruption of business operations and adversely impact an organisation's reputation. Worse, they can also result in injuries and fatalities. For example, a massive house fire along Parry Avenue in June last year claimed two lives and injured six others. The cause of this fire was due to the overnight charging of batteries and overloading of power extension sockets.
7. In Singapore, we can expect the usage of electronic gadgets and appliances to increase over time. As such, more should be done to prevent the occurrence of fires that arise from improper handling of these devices. These fires can, and should, be prevented.
8. In today's programme, Dr. Lock Kai Sang, President and Director of PQR Technologies, will speak on the various types of electrical hazards and how they can be prevented. I encourage you to apply this newly-acquired knowledge at your workplaces and homes, and share it with your colleagues and families as well. With higher fire safety standards for our homes and workplaces, we can minimise the number of fire casualties.
In support of the SG Secure movement, SCDF and NFEC will work closely with the industry and community, to ensure that every citizen will be prepared for emergencies.
9. Next, let me speak about what the SG Secure movement means for the SCDF, the NFEC, and their emergency preparedness efforts.
10. Emergency preparedness has become more important given the heightened security threat from terrorism. In recent months, we have witnessed an alarming surge in terrorist attacks that have taken place globally, including some in our neighbouring countries. In fact, this iconic building we are in now, the Marina Bay Sands, was a target of the Katibah GR, a terrorist cell based in Batam. The SG Secure movement is therefore both timely and necessary, to prepare our community to be vigilant, resilient and cohesive. We can safeguard our homes and continue with our way of life, even in the face of terrorist threats and attacks.
11. I am glad to share that the SG Secure movement is gaining momentum among the neighbourhood communities, schools, and workplaces. Since mid-July, SCDF's Operationally Ready National Servicemen from the Public Shelter and Resilience Unit, together with Police officers, have conducted house visits at the HDB heartland areas in Yishun and Toa Payoh. Our Home Team officers shared with residents the SG Secure messages, advised residents to stay alert and look out for suspicious items or characters, as well as emphasised to them the importance of neighbourliness amongst the community. It is heartening to know that our officers have been well received by the residents during these house visits.
12. On its part, SCDF will continue to work closely with the community to raise awareness and impart the Triangle of Life skillsets ─ basic first aid, training in CPR, and basic fire-fighting. These skills will allow us to respond immediately and effectively to any terrorist incident or emergency situation.
13. The NFEC will continue to be an important partner to SCDF in promoting emergency preparedness. It leverages its strong partnership with the commercial and industrial sectors, to facilitate more emergency preparedness workshops, dialogues and engagement sessions within the workplace and the community. As part of the SG Secure movement, such programmes can help the Home Team promote the "Run, Hide and Tell" steps for responding to a terror incident, and the "Press, Tie and Tell" steps for improvised first aid. With the right training, everyone can play a part during an emergency.
14. In closing, I would like to commend the NFEC, led by Chairman Mr Alan Loh, and the NFEC Board of Directors, for the excellent work that they have put into organising today's NFEC Fire Safety Seminar. I would also like to express our appreciation to the invited speakers for graciously agreeing to share your expertise with us. In addition, I would like to thank all the participants here for your active support for the event.
15. Fire safety and emergency preparedness are important to the SG Secure movement. I would like to encourage all companies and citizens to participate actively in the SG Secure movement, as we work together to ensure a safe and secure Singapore.