The death of the full-time national serviceman Sergeant (1) Edward H Go during a firefighting operation brought sorrow not only to the family members and his close friends but to the nation that followed the tragic news closely over the past few days up till the ceremonial funeral led by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on 13 Dec.

But even as the late firefighter has been laid to rest, RDU feels that there are some questions that need to be clarified by the authorities, namely the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and SCDF. RDU emphasised that this is not meant to ‘politicise the matter nor attack the credibility of their good offices, even as they share the deep concerns of fellow citizens and hope that the welfare of our servicemen is adequately attended to.’

Photo: Facebook screengrab / reddotunitedsg

Among the questions that RDU wishes 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.

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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.

“We are of the firm view that every national service death is something that could be prevented. We pray that the lessons learnt from the untimely passing of SGT1 Edward will create a safer environment for the rest of his comrades. Every event, notwithstanding the element of fault, will leave room for learning and we only hope that the painful lessons we glean from SGT1 Edward’s unfortunate death will compel us to do better for the men who protect us,” said the party’s secretary-general Philemon in their letter to MHA and SCDF.

Photo: Facebook screengrab / SCDFpage

RDU also put forth several questions on the health and fire safety aspect of fire protection and equipment that they feel could better enhance the working conditions of the firefighters should they encounter another fire incident at HDB blocks.

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The party asked whether SCDF would consider investing in real-time remote health monitoring equipment to monitor the vital signs of service personnel responding to emergencies and whether it is necessary for SCDF to invest in better fire protection and breathing apparatus or whether the present equipment is relevant and adequate.

RDU also wants to know whether SCDF will consider working closely with HDB to ensure that any and all applications involving the temporary erection of structures in public spaces do not compromise fire safety and whether NSF deployment for frontline activities will be better supervised in future.

Red Dot United’s (RDU) secretary-general Ravi Philemon was present at 91 Henderson Road a few hours after the unfortunate incident. Together with the party’s president David Foo, they attended the wake service a day before the funeral.

Condolences were also extended to the family by Joan Pereira, member of parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC, where the block is located.

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“It was immensely painful for me to hear of the news about the passing of our courageous and selfless firefighter today. My thoughts go out to his family and friends. I would like to pay a tribute to him as well as all of our first responders who answered the call of duty to save lives with courage and determination,” posted Pereira on her Facebook after the incident.

Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam on 13 Dec posted on his Facebook that the authority will be conducting an investigation into the incident.

“The late SGT Edward H Go’s ceremonial funeral was held today. He gave his life in service to Singapore. He was given full ceremonial honours and posthumously promoted.”

“From all accounts a brave and responsible young man. Our thoughts are with his loved ones. There will be an investigation on what happened. And we will keep the family informed of the findings.”