Singapore Civil Defence Force Workplan Seminar - Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 15 April 2021

Commissioner Eric, 

Colleagues from the Home Team,

Partners and Friends,



1. A very good morning to all of you. Welcome to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Workplan Seminar 2021.

SCDF’s contributions to the fight against COVID-19

2. Since the start of COVID-19, SCDF officers have been at the forefront with many others in the Public Sector, fighting COVID-19. You have done the Home Team proud, with your dedication, your professionalism.

3. It has not been easy going. For example, officers from the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) had to perform duties while wearing full protective gear for about four months. It is hot and uncomfortable. To-date, SCDF officers have conveyed about 8,300 suspected COVID-19 cases, and 2,000 of them turned out to be COVID-19 positive.

4. We are proud of all our officers for stepping up in the face of these risks and challenges. I would like to thank each and every one of you.


New Frontiers in SCDF’s Transformation

5. Even as we fight COVID-19, we have to look ahead and prepare for the future. That is the essence of this year’s theme, which is: “A Nation of Lifesavers: New Frontiers”.

6. SCDF has a very good record in using technology in its functions. In industrial fires, SCDF uses unmanned firefighting machines to penetrate deeper to reach the seat of the fire, lower the temperature of the area. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are deployed to provide Ground Commanders with a bird’s eye view of the whole incident, including the scale and extent of the fire, which allows them a better appreciation of the situation.

7. In the coming months, SCDF will be launching a new fleet of Command Vehicles.  These vehicles will be able to integrate data from different sources, like cameras on SCDF’s aerial ladders and UAVs. That will further improve the situational awareness of the Commanders.

8. SCDF is also investing significantly in technology for training and learning. It has started using virtual reality to supplement ground training, and to expose officers to large- scale and complex incidents. This simulation environment will allow trainees to learn how to manage incidents in a safe way, and even try out new strategies.

9. The Civil Defence Academy is currently undergoing major redevelopment. It is expected to be completed in the next few years. Phase 1 will be completed this year with the rolling-out of several new training facilities.

10. There will be an Emergency Responders' Fitness Conditioning & Enhancement Lab (ExCEL). It will allow SCDF to collect physiological data, to better understand officers’ work-rest cycles and training limits, and allow it to customise training programmes to suit the different needs of different officers and different situations.

11. Subsequent phases of the redevelopment will see new mock-up facilities such as a Mixed-Use Premises (MUP), which will include a bus interchange, MRT station, shopping mall, and even a vehicle tunnel. These mock facilities will allow SCDF to simulate more types of emergency for training.

12. A National EMS Training Centre will also be developed, that will meet the training needs of paramedics, and set national standards for pre-hospital care.


Looking Beyond 2025

13. SCDF continues to push the boundaries, to re-imagine the future of emergency response. In the middle of the current transformation efforts, SCDF is laying the foundations for the next bound of transformation. The vision is a Force that is able to use different technologies to save lives.

14. Among others, SCDF will equip responders with smart devices that will allow real-time communications and sharing of critical data between officers on the ground and incident command. SCDF will have more intelligent robots and more unmanned ground vehicles in frontline operations.

15. We will also have Smart Fire Stations that will employ many more automation and digital tools. For example, the new Punggol Fire Station – that will be the first. The fire station will be equipped with automated roller shutters, which will open and close based on motion and proximity sensors. That will help our emergency vehicles move out faster during an emergency, reduce the chances of accidents occurring due to human error when operating the shutters. The fire station will use facial recognition and video analytics for access control. 

16. If you move to the regulatory space, SCDF is working towards a seamless and fully digital service journey. For example, it is exploring the use of blockchain technology to enhance the regulation of fire safety products, and artificial intelligence to assist in the auditing of building plans.

17. To strengthen the partnership between SCDF and the community in emergency response, SCDF plans to enhance its call-taking capability to allow emergency calls to be done through video calls. Then, first responders will be able to show the SCDF operator pictures and videos on the ground. The real-time footage will allow quicker and more accurate triaging of emergencies, and allow SCDF operators to give better instructions to the community responders.

18. These plans are still in the early days of development. They will be refined and updated. I wanted to share them with you to give you a sense of the exciting future to come.



19. Let me conclude by acknowledging again SCDF’s immense effort and progress in its transformation journey. To all SCDF officers, thank you for the hard work and dedication you have given towards your mission of saving lives and property. 

20. Well done, and keep it up. Thank you.