The elderly woman who was injured after a blaze broke out at her 13th floor flat at Block 210A Bukit Batok Street 21 passed away on Monday (9 Dec). The lady, known as Mdm Goh, was in her 60s and had been fighting for her life at Singapore General Hospital for over a month, since the fire took place on 1 Nov.
After the fire broke out around 4am that day, trapping Mdm Goh’s family within the flat, Singapore Civil Defence Force (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.
By this time, Mdm Goh’s husband and their son climbed out onto the 13th-storey ledge from their kitchen window while Mdm Goh locked herself in the bathroom as the fire built up and suffered from serious burns and smoke inhalation.
All three were hospitalised after the SCDF eventually put out the fire using water from their emergency vehicles. While Mdm Goh’s husband was discharged a week after the fire and her son was discharged on 15 Nov, Mdm Goh continued receiving intensive care treatment until she passed on Monday.
The problems with the fire hose reel is said to have delayed the rescue attempt. The SCDF subsequently revealed it issued Fire Hazard Abatement Notices to Jurong-Clementi Town Council over the lack of water supply to the hose and the padlocking of the hose cabinet.
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. The ruling party-run town council later pinned the water supply issue to the contractor’s failure to ensure that the hose system was operationally ready.
The town council also said that it looked into why the hose reel cabinets in Block 210A were padlocked and found that the action was taken by a JCTC property officer to put an end to the frequent vandalism of the cabinets.
JCTC said, “This was a mistake, as it meant that the cabinets could only be opened with force during an emergency, as SCDF had done during the recent fire incident…While the officer has provided dedicated service to JCTC over many years, he will be redeployed. Two senior officers with supervisory roles over the officer will also be penalised.”