Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JCTC) has concluded its investigation into the issues with the fire hose reels at Block 210A Bukit Batok Street 21 that came to light after a raging fire engulfed a 13th floor flat, last month.
After the fire broke out on 1 Nov, trapping three occupants, SCDF firefighters who arrived at the scene found that the fire hose reel cabinets at the block were padlocked and discovered that there was no water supply for the hose reel when they broke one of the padlocks.
The problems with the fire hose reel is said to have delayed the rescue attempt and two male occupants of the flat climbed out onto the 13th-storey ledge from their kitchen window while another occupant locked herself in the bathroom as the fire built up. All three occupants were hospitalised after the SCDF eventually put out the fire using water from their emergency vehicles.
The SCDF subsequently revealed it issued Fire Hazard Abatement Notices to JCTC over these two issues. JCTC later said the fire hose reel was in normal working condition two weeks prior to the fire but added that it accepts the SCDF’s report that it was not working when the fire occurred.
JCTC has now pinned the water supply issue to the contractor’s failure to ensure that the hose system was operationally ready.
In a statement published yesterday (2 Dec), just a month after the fire occurred, JCTC revealed that the selector switch at the pump room supplying water to the fire hose reels at Block 210A was in the incorrect mode after a maintenance exercise that was conducted two weeks before the fire.
The town council said that it is holding the contractor contractually responsible for its failure to ensure that the hose reel system was operationally ready. Revealing that it will issue a Notice of Non-Performance to the contractor, JCTC added that the contractor has taken action against the employee who was involved in the maintenance works and that the employee will be redeployed:
“Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JCTC) has concluded its investigation on why, as found by SCDF on 1 Nov 2019, there was no water supply for the fire hose reel at the 13th floor of Blk 210A, Bukit Batok St 21 at the time.
“It has found that J. Keart Alliances Pte Ltd (JKeart), the contractor responsible for maintaining the hose reels, had been negligent in failing to ensure that a selector switch at the pump room in Block 210A was in the correct mode following a maintenance exercise of the pumps carried out 2 weeks beforehand. As a result, JCTC will issue a Notice of Non-Performance to JKeart holding it contractually responsible for the failure.
“JKeart had earlier provided JCTC a report, including signed statements from several of its employees who attended to the incident at Blk 210A on 1 Nov 2019, asserting that the hose reels had been properly maintained and, in particular, that there was water supply to the hose reels at the material time.
“JKeart’s report contradicted Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)’s findings that the hose reel on the 13th floor of Blk 210A had no water supply during its firefighting operation at about 4.30am on 1 Nov, JCTC undertook further investigation.
“Apart from interviewing JKeart and its employees, JCTC retrieved and examined video footage from the CCTVs installed at the lifts of Block 210A. After close review, it found that on the day of the fire incident, at about 8 am, a JKeart employee took one of the lifts at the block to the top floor from which the pump room may be accessed.
“JKeart, after revisiting the matter with the employee, informed JCTC that its earlier report asserting that there was water in the hose reel on the day of the fire incident was incorrect. It disclosed that the employee concerned had confessed he went to the pump room at about 8 am on the day in question, after the fire, and saw that the selector switch was in “manual-mode”. In that mode, there would be no water pumped to the hose reel system.
“He immediately switched the selector switch to “auto-mode”, which activated the pumping of water to the hose reel system. JKeart further informed that its employee had switched the selector switch to “manual-mode” during a recent maintenance cycle conducted 2 weeks beforehand, so as to check each pump’s operations separately.
“He had then forgotten to switch it back to “auto-mode”. This failure had led to the hose reel system in Blk 210A having no water at the time when SCDF officers were engaged in the firefighting operation.
“JCTC will issue a Notice of Non-Performance to JKeart holding it contractually responsible for its failure to ensure that the hose reel system was operationally ready. JKeart has informed JCTC that it has taken appropriate action against its employee, who will also be redeployed.”
JCTC added: “JCTC will continue to partner Bukit Batok community leaders to support Mdm Goh and her family, and is grateful to those who have made donations for the purpose. JCTC Town Councillors continue to keep Mdm Goh and her family in our thoughts and prayers.”