Singapore — A fire that had been started by a personal mobility device (PMD) broke out at Choa Chu Kang on Tuesday, August 6. The fire resulted in three individuals needing to be hospitalised.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said via its Facebook account that it responded to a fire on the third floor unit at Block 688A Choa Chu Kang Drive. The SCDF, fortunately, was able to extinguish the fire with a compressed air foam backpack.
The SCDF said that the fire “involved a Personal Mobility Device (PMD) in the living room.”
Before the SCDF responded to the incident, seven people had already been evacuated from the unit.
But due to smoke inhalation, three people needed to be brought to the hospital. One adult was brought to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, and one child and another adult were brought to National University Hospital.
The post from the SCDF pinpointed a PMD as the cause of the fire. “Preliminary investigation into the cause of the fire indicates that it was of electrical origin from the PMD which was charging at the time of the fire.”
The SCDF encouraged the public to practice safety measures in order to prevent PMD fires from occurring, as well as issued a reminder of upcoming regulations that would further encourage the safe use of these devices. “LTA encourages all PMD owners to use UL2272 certified devices. When purchasing a PMD, look out for the UL2272 Certification Marks.
Refer to LTA’s website (bit.ly/ul2272sg) for more information on UL2272 certification and an indicative list of UL2272 certified devices available in Singapore.”
The fire at Choa Chu Kang was just the latest in a series of PMD-related fires. On July 27, a charging PMD caused a fire at Block 191 Boon Lay Drive, making it the ninth incident in recent months.
In September 2018, it was announced by Lam Pin Min, the Senior Minister of State for Transport, that motorised PMDs are mandated to meet safety standards by 2021. But on Monday, August 5, the government announced that it would impose stricter rules for the use of PMD, including compliance with the “UL2272 standard” of these mechanical and electrical devices by July of next year instead of January 2021, a deadline that had been set earlier.
Two years ago, there were only 49 such incidents of fires related to PMDs. In 2018, the number shot up to 74. Last month, Singapore saw its first PMD-fire-related death when forty-one-year-old Goh Keng Soon succumbed to his injuries two days after a fire at Bukit Batok.
On July 26, the SCDF issued a list of Fire Safety Tips for PMDs and PABs, saying, “In the first half of this year (January to June 2019), there were a total of 54 reported fires involving Power Assisted Bicycles (PABs) and Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs).”
This is an increase from the same period last year (January to June 2018), when there were 24 such reported fires.
The number of such fires in residential premises in the first half of 2019 increased to 36, with 31 people injured, from 23 fires in the same period in 2018 where 11 people were injured.
The majority of PAB and PMD-related fires involve lithium-ion batteries and occurred while the batteries were being charged or shortly after they had been fully charged.
Fires can result from faulty electrical circuitry in batteries that causes short-circuiting or overheating, and the risk of this increases with over-charging.
Users of PABs or PMDs should be vigilant when charging their devices, as improper charging methods or use of unapproved equipment can endanger lives and damage property./ TISG