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Henderson Road fire: Contractor fined for obstructing service road

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This is the same fire that led to the death of NSF Sergeant Edward H. Go. The police are currently conducting an independent, thorough investigation into the circumstances of his demise

Tanjong Pagar Town Council has issued a summons to contractor, Tai Tiong (Red/White) Metal Tents Centre, for erecting a funeral wake tent that obstructed a service road that led to an 18-minute delay in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) response to a fire at Henderson Road last month.

This is the firefighting operation that ended with the death of 19-year old full-time national serviceman (NSF) Sergeant (1) Edward H Go. Minister of State for Home Affairs Assoc Prof Faishal Ibrahim revealed details of the incident in parliament on Monday, 9 Jan but said that it is still premature to determine what led to Go’s death.

“(Tanjong Pagar) Town Council carried out enforcement action against the tentage contractor in accordance with the town council By-laws and issued a summons to the company for obstructing the service road,” as reported by ChannelNewsAsia on Tuesday, 10 Jan.

The Minister of State was replying to parliamentary questions filed by the Workers Party member of parliament Gerald Giam who asked, what are the reasons for an NSF firefighter falling unconscious and who later died in a firefighting operation at 91 Henderson Road on 8 Dec 2022.

“The passing of SGT1 Edward Go is the first SCDF fatality in a firefighting operation. The police are currently conducting an independent, thorough investigation into the circumstances of SGT1 Edward’s demise, and will apprise the coroner of its findings. At this stage, it is premature to determine the factors which contributed to SGT1 Edward’s death,” shared Assoc Prof Faishal in parliament.

The Minister of State added that the coroner will consider the police investigation findings, in determining the cause of death, and that due to the ongoing investigations, he is unable to share further details at this stage.

Bukit Batok SMC MP Murali Pillai asked Minister of State Assoc Prof Faishal what were the challenges experienced during the firefighting operation on 8 Dec 2022 which resulted in the passing of an SCDF NSF firefighter, and how does SCDF ensure that its frontline officers are adequately trained and equipped to carry out their duties safely and effectively.

“While responding to the incident, the SCDF officers found the fire engine accessway leading to Block 91 Henderson Road obstructed by a tent where a funeral wake was being held. The officers removed the bollards that were padlocked to the ground near the tentage to create an access path. This delayed their arrival by 18 minutes,” said Assoc Prof Faishal.

“Based on the ground commander’s assessment of the resources needed for the operation, 22 emergency vehicles and 61 responders from six fire stations were deployed to the incident. About 40 percent of the responders were national servicemen – meaning the majority, 60% of the responders were regular officers.”

The Minister of State added that the SCDF will seek to understand what happened, including if standard operating procedures and protocols had been followed, and how these may need to be tightened to keep the officers as safe as possible when they serve our nation.

Opposition party Red Dot United (RDU) had also taken an interest in this matter as they visited the site after the fire and their secretary-general Ravi Philemon and chairman David Foo attended the wake service of SGT (1) Go.

After the funeral, they emailed both the Ministry of Home Affairs and SCDF to seek clarifications on the death of the NSF firefighter.

Among the questions that RDU hopes to find out from the above-mentioned agencies are:

1) Whether the Fire Access to the affected block was blocked by a funeral tent.

2) Whether the first LF4G was stuck on the grass verge leading up to the affected unit.

3) Whether SGT1 Edward’s breathing apparatus and fire protection were in working order.

4) Whether adequate training was provided to SGT1 Edward to equip him to handle such incidents.

5) Whether there were any specific events, occurrences, or intervening acts, that caused SGT1 Edward to collapse.

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