The SCDF Parade and Singapore-Global Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge 2015 - Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister For Law

Published: 14 November 2015

Commissioner Eric Yap,

International guests,  


SCDF officers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good afternoon to all of you.




1.     We have the privilege today to have an international delegation with us, including a delegation from France. This morning, we received news of the attacks in Paris. Based on news reports, more than 150 people have been killed. These are innocent lives. Several gun attacks were obviously coordinated to bring war onto the streets of cities in a completely uncivilised, dastardly way. This shows how terrorism can take place anywhere and no one can be immune. France has closed its borders, and its troops are out on the streets. It is a very, very sad situation. Essentially, the approach of the terrorists is to try to disrupt normal life.  Please join me to observe one minute's silence, to remember the loss of these innocent lives.  


2.     We gather today for the annual SCDF Parade and the Singapore-Global Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge (SGFPC). We extend a warm welcome to our foreign guests and international participants. At the parade, SCDF officers will reaffirm their commitment to the SCDF mission of protecting and saving lives and property.


3.     The Global Challenge will provide a platform for SCDF and overseas counterparts to share their knowledge and expertise. We have a total of 15 overseas teams from 13 countries[1]participating this year.


4.     The theme for this event is: "Together, A Nation of Life Savers". It emphasises the importance of partnering with the community to keep our citizens safe.  


Planning for the Future


5.     The SCDF has grown in stature over the years to become a leading emergency response force. Last month, it was conferred the Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation, the pinnacle of organisational excellence awards in Singapore. Only a few organisations have attained this distinctive honour. This is a clear endorsement of the SCDF's ability to achieve and sustain high quality outcomes. This is important, as SCDF will face many challenges in the future. 


6.     One key challenge is the increasing demand for its emergency medical services. 995 calls for ambulances are increasing annually at an average rate of about 5%. For the first half of this year, SCDF attended to about 82,000 emergency medical calls or about 450 calls a day. That is an increase of 7.4% over the same period last year.


7.     It is not going to be possible for SCDF to continuously expand its ambulance fleet and personnel to meet this increase in demand. We will have to review our concept of ambulance operations and plan ahead for the future.


Build New Capabilities for the Future


8.     For us, continuous innovation and leveraging technology is going to be critical.Customised innovation projects, such as the Light Fire Attack Vehicle, or we call them Red Rhinos, have enhanced SCDF's response capabilities.


9.     The Red Rhino was conceptualised by the SCDF. It is more compact than a fire engine and is able to reach the heart of a fire or rescue incident. Over the years, it has evolved both in design and in capabilities. Later, we will unveil the latest fifth generation Red Rhino. The latest Red Rhino is configured to seat a crew of five SCDF officers including an Emergency Medical Technician who will be equipped to respond to both fire and medical emergencies.


10.     SCDF is also developing a multi-purpose vehicle - the Fire-Medical hybrid vehicle - which can respond to fire, rescue and medical cases.


Building a Nation of Live Savers 2025


11.     SCDF has done well because of the strong support from its community partners, volunteers, and members of the public. It will continue this partnership with the community to achieve SCDF's vision of "A Nation of Life Savers" by 2025. Everyone can be a life saver during an emergency. 


12.     An example is 76-year old Mr Goh Min Juan. He saw a fire encroaching into his neighbour's flat in Bedok two months ago. He made seven trips up and down a flight of stairs to get water from his house to extinguish the fire before SCDF's arrival. SCDF later rescued a 15-year old boy trapped in that unit. Mr Goh's quick action contained the fire and saved a life. We need more such Community First Responders, who care enough to make a positive difference during an emergency.


Strengthening International Partnerships


13.     SCDF will also strengthen its international collaboration and partnerships. Events such as the Global Challenge allow emergency responders from different countries to build camaraderie, and share their skills and expertise.  


14.     SCDF took part in these overseas humanitarian and disaster relief missions this year, showing its capabilities.


15.     In April, 60 SCDF officers, including three SCDF ORNSmen, were deployed to Nepal in the immediate aftermath of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. SCDF worked with rescuers from other countries like Belgium and the SMART[2] from Malaysia to conduct search and rescue.


16.     In June, a medical team of four SCDF officers went to Kota Kinabalu to help Singaporeans affected by the Sabah earthquake.


17.     And last month, SCDF deployed six of its elite DART officers to Palembang, Indonesia, together with an SAF team. They helped mitigate peat fires through aerial fire-fighting operations.  




18.     In closing, I would like to commend all of our officers, including our full-time National Servicemen and Operationally Ready National Servicemen, for your courage, resilience, and passion in saving lives and protecting property.


19.     You have much to be proud of. Continue to earn the public's trust and confidence, and global recognition as a professional Life Saving Force.


20.     Thank you.



[1] The 15 overseas participating teams are from Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia (3 teams), Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom and Vietnam. 

[2] Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART), National Security Council, Malaysia. We will be seeing the SMART in action during the Global Challenge.


Civil Defence and Emergency Preparedness