SCDF Workplan Seminar 2024 – Speech by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 04 July 2024

Commissioner Eric,

Colleagues and Partners,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning.


1. I am so happy to see so many of you here today, and that you have been able join us for this Workplan Seminar. 

2. SCDF’s operating environment is unpredictable, and can be dangerous. 

3. There are many unknowns – not knowing when a call will come, or what the officers will encounter at the scene of the fire or emergency. 

4. Only one thing is certain, and I’ve seen this time and time again whenever I visit our stations and facilities: 

5. The dedication and courage of our SCDF officers. You give your utmost in response to every call for help, driven by your devotion to duty, and commitment to saving lives. 

6. Please join me to give our SCDF officers a big round of applause.

7. However, this means that our officers sometimes find themselves in harm’s way, in carrying out their mission.

8. In May, Captain (CPT) Kenneth Tay died in the line of duty, while fighting a fire on a ship. 

9. We are all deeply saddened. 

10. Those who knew CPT Kenneth tell me that he was passionate about his work, especially frontline operational roles. 

11. He embodied the highest standards of professionalism, and went above and beyond to contribute to the organisation in other ways, such as serving as Para-Counsellor and Career Advocate. 

12. He was well-loved by his peers, colleagues, and friends. 

13. No words can adequately express our sadness, nor our gratitude to CPT Kenneth for his service and sacrifice to SCDF and the nation. 

SCDF Transformation 2030

14. Today, SCDF will launch Transformation 2030, with the vision of being “Prepared, Even for the Unexpected”. 

15. Let me share a few of the initiatives which SCDF is pursuing in this regard.

New Generation Breathing Apparatus

16. A new generation of breathing apparatus with telemetry capabilities will be progressively deployed from October this year. 

17. This new breathing apparatus will be able to transmit data that is crucial in firefighting operations, such as the air capacity remaining in the apparatus in real time, to SCDF’s monitoring unit, where the Breathing Apparatus Control Officer, or BACO, monitors the movement of firefighters into and out of the scene of the fire. 

18. This will enable the BACO to quickly intervene, if the data shows the firefighter to be in distress or in need of assistance. 

19. The new breathing apparatus will also come with a Personnel Distress Device, or PDD, that is automatically activated once the air tank is turned on. In today’s apparatus, the PDD must be manually turned on by the firefighter, which gives rise to the risk that the firefighter might forget to do so. 

20. In addition, with the new PDD, should there be no motion detected from the firefighter, it will automatically trigger an audible alarm at the firefighter’s location as well as an alert to the monitoring unit. 

21. There are bound to be unexpected situations when our firefighters run into difficulties, and are unable to extricate themselves or call for help.  

22. These technology features will enhance safety for our officers. 

Enhanced Training and Development

23. To be prepared for the unexpected, our officers also need to be well-trained, so that they can respond appropriately no matter what they face.  

24. All SCDF officers undergo a series of realistic, rigorous and systematic training at the Civil Defence Academy (CDA)

25. The CDA has state-of-the-art training facilities and ‘live’ fire simulators to provide realistic training, to better prepare the officers for the real operating environment. 

26. The training curriculum is reviewed regularly, to ensure continued currency and to enhance robustness. 

27. Even after graduation from the CDA, training continues to be an integral part of a firefighter’s daily routine

28. They undergo exercises and drills during each work shift to familiarise themselves with their respective roles and functions, as well as to maintain fitness and other competencies. 

29. Annual proficiency tests are conducted to ensure that the officers’ skills and fitness continue to meet the required standards.

30. The leadership and command and control (C2) capabilities of our ground commanders are also critical. 

31. SCDF has made enhancements to the selection process and training for ground commanders

32. For example, the training now stress-tests the officers’ C2 capabilities through scenario exercises. 

33. During milestone courses, such as the Senior Leadership Course and Advanced Commander Course, good leadership practices, morale management, crisis management, and team resilience, are emphasised. 

34. In the coming months, SCDF will implement a 360-feedback mechanism to assess and evaluate officers for their suitability to hold supervisory appointments, before deciding on the appointment. 

35. This will enhance the quality of officers selected for such appointments. 

Meeting Increasing Demand for EMS

36. Next, I would like to share on an area of concern for SCDF: the increasing demand for emergency medical services (EMS). 

37. EMS calls have increased by more than 30% in the last five years, from less than 200,000 in 2019, to almost 250,000 in 2023. 

38. It is not easy for SCDF Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians to cope with such high call volumes. 

39. Already, they work long and strenuous shifts, in hot and humid conditions, sometimes responding to up to 12 calls during each shift. 

40. No call is easy. 

41. Every call requires a tremendous amount of attention and urgency, and the crew has to maintain this high level of focus from one call to the next, because lives are at stake. 

42. Sometimes, the crew will receive another call on the way back from one call.

43. Demand for EMS is expected to remain high, and in fact continue to grow, given Singapore’s aging population. This presents formidable challenges for SCDF and its EMS crews. 

44. SCDF is taking a multi-pronged approach to ensure that the workload of the EMS crews remains sustainable, while maintaining operational excellence. 

Dynamic Deployment Pods

45. First, SCDF will be launching a six-month trial of a dynamic deployment concept, to enhance ambulance operations so that the EMS crews can respond even faster to EMS calls

46. At present, SCDF ambulances are deployed from Fire Stations, Fire Posts or Community Centres – but these are limited by their locality. 

47. To enhance the ground coverage of SCDF ambulances, this six-month trial will involve the deployment of EMS crews at Dynamic Deployment Pods, or DDPs.

48. These DDPs are furnished like a container office, and offer a comfortable and conducive environment for the EMS crew to rest and recharge in between calls. 

49. The pods can easily be moved from place to place, as the EMS demand changes. 

50. This provides more operational flexibility in the deployment of ambulances. DDPs will be placed at areas with high call loads, as determined by SCDF’s data analytics, and where there are no suitable permanent infrastructures to station the ambulances. 

51. The first pod is expected to be deployed at Jurong Lake Gardens in the fourth quarter of 2024. 

Slightly longer arrival times for lower acuity EMS calls 

52. Second, triaging and prioritising EMS calls. 

53. This has been an ongoing effort by SCDF. In 2017, the EMS Tiered Response Framework was put in place, to prioritise the deployment of SCDF’s EMS resources and response, based on the severity of the patient’s medical condition. 

54. In 2019, we introduced the non-conveyance policy, where patients are not conveyed to hospitals if their case is assessed to be a non-emergency by paramedics at the scene. 

55. Then last year, we implemented the non-dispatch policy, where ambulances will not be dispatched if the call is assessed to be a non-emergency. 

56. Starting from July this year, if a call is assessed to be of a lower acuity, a slightly longer wait time of up to 20 minutes can be expected. 

57. This approach allows SCDF to further prioritise emergency ambulances for higher acuity and more life-threatening emergencies that require more immediate medical attention.

58. Even as we do this, please rest assured that patients’ safety will remain our top priority. 

59. SCDF will implement a series of safeguards to ensure that safety is not compromised. 

60. For example, if SCDF receives a second call informing of a deterioration in the patient’s condition, it will re-triage and send an emergency ambulance immediately to attend to the patient. 

Increasing Manpower for EMS

61. Third, further building up our EMS manpower. 

62. SCDF has expanded its recruitment pathways, such as the SCDF-ITE Work-Study Diploma Programme, which offers aspiring applicants an opportunity to begin a career with SCDF, while pursuing a diploma. 

63. MHA also offers a sign-on bonus of up to $30,000 for new recruits. 

64. For officers already in service, we regularly review their salary to ensure remuneration competitiveness. 

65. Additionally, they receive retention payments every three to five years. 

66. To recognise, develop, and retain deep expertise in the EMS domain, SCDF has introduced the Paramedicine Expert Track.  

67. For now, 10 to 15 paramedics would be appointed as Senior Specialists under the track. 

68. They would be the pillar for SCDF to build domain knowledge in the EMS field, though research into EMS operational practices, and clinical management skills. 

69. They would also be given additional opportunities to attend conferences and workshops to hone their knowledge and skills, perform adjunct lecturing to impart their knowledge to others, and mentor younger officers. 

70. In recognition of their expertise, and additional contributions to SCDF, the Senior Specialists would be granted a skills allowance.  

71. As part of my portfolio, I spend a lot of time engaging out SCDF officers, both NSFs and our regulars. We are blessed and fortunate to have all of them amongst us. 

72. Sometimes, I ask them about the most challenging situations that they have encountered, as every situation is unique, and there is always an element of the unexpected.

73. All our SCDF officers always tell me this: “We are very committed to save lives”.

74. It’s about understanding the situation. From what the stories that they tell me, I feel very assured that they will look at each situation and understand the complexity of the situation, before they come in and save lives.


75. To all SCDF officers – thank you for your hard work and unwavering dedication to SCDF’s mission of saving lives and property, and embodying the values of courage in the face of adversity, compassion for those in need, and selflessness in service to others. 

76. To our partners and volunteers, thank you too, for your support. We hope that you will continue to journey alongside us, as we work on Transformation 2030.

77. Thank you.