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Man who died in July 18 Bukit Batok fire could be Singapore’s first PMD-related fatality

The number of fires due to PMDs being charged in apartments has grown markedly. In 2018, 74 fires were caused by charging PMDs, while the year before that, there had only been 49 such incidents

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Singapore — Forty-one-year-old Goh Keng Soon may be the first person in Singapore to have died from a Personal Mobility Device (PMD)-related fire. Mr Goh succumbed to his injuries two days after the fire at Bukit Batok, where he was a resident.

The fire broke out in the early morning hours on July 18, Thursday. Over 40 percent of Mr Goh’s body was affected by third-degree burns. He was found unconscious and rescued by firemen from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), and then brought to Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

Mr Goh had worked as a private-hire car driver.

Murali Pillai, Bukit Batok Member of Parliament (MP), posted about the fire on Facebook on July 18, saying that it had been caused by two e-scooters.

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Early morning today, an unfortunate fire incident happened at a unit on the 26th floor of Blk 293D. The cause was traced…

Posted by Murali Pillai on Wednesday, July 17, 2019

“Early morning today, an unfortunate fire incident happened at a unit on the 26th floor of Blk 293D. The cause was traced to 2 e-scooters. 3 residents who were injured were sent to NTFH. A big thank you to Singapore Civil Defence Force and Singapore Police Force for their quick response and action.”

According to a report in The New Paper (TNP) Mr Goh’s cause of death can only be determined upon the release of the report from the coroner, and after police finish their investigations into the fire.

The number of fires due to PMDs being charged in apartments has grown markedly. In 2018, 74 fires were caused by charging PMDs, while the year before that, there had only been 49 such incidents.

The cause of many of these fires is poor quality or defective batteries, the TNP report says.
If Mr Goh’s death is found to be directly due to the fire, he will be the first fatality related to fires due to the charging of PMDs, although several individuals have been injured in such fires in the past. Some children have also been hurt in these fires.

But as for Mr Goh’s death, TNP says that his neighbors are now concerned over PMD usage, expressing worries over fires that may break out because of them, especially when e-scooters are left charging in apartments overnight.

Dr Teo Ho Pin, the coordinating MP for People’s Action Party town councils is quoted as saying, “Charging PMDs at home poses certain fire risks. It is crucial that we educate PMD owners to only purchase reliable and certified PMDs.”

To ensure safety standards among these devices new UL2272 standard will be implemented. From 2021 and onwards, every PMD unit used in public paths needs to be UL2272-certified.

In the meantime, people who own these devices must take extra care in their use and charging, including making sure that they are far from materials that may combust.

Another measure that can help prevent fatalities, injuries and damage is the installation of smoke detectors, which are not installed in most HDB apartments, according to Professor Walter Theseira. “Having them could warn occupants early when a fire breaks out.”

Earlier this month, Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah reiterated her call for the government to implement stricter measures when it comes to PMDs./ TISG

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