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Town Council staff who padlocked fire hose reel to be redeployed, senior officers set to be penalised: JCTC

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The JCTC property officer had padlocked the cabinets to prevent vandalism

Concluding its investigation into the issues with the fire hose reels at Block 210A Bukit Batok Street 21 that came to light after a raging fire engulfed a 13th floor flat last month, Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JCTC) revealed in a statement yesterday (Dec 2) that the staff who padlocked the fire hose reel is to be redeployed and that his supervisors will also be penalised.

After the fire broke out on Nov 1, trapping three occupants, 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.

The problem with the fire hose reel is said to have delayed the rescue attempt and two male occupants of the flat climbed out onto the 13th-storey ledge from their kitchen window while another occupant locked herself in the bathroom as the fire built up.

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All three occupants were hospitalised after the SCDF eventually put out the fire using water from their emergency vehicles. The SCDF subsequently revealed it issued Fire Hazard Abatement Notices to JCTC over these two issues.

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Yesterday, JCTC 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.”

Revealing that inspections of the hose reels, fire extinguishers and other fire safety equipment in all the seven wards in JCTC showed that the equipment is in working condition, the town council added that many hose reel cabinets had been damaged through vandalism and some other fire safety equipment had also been vandalised.

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While JCTC is urgently repairing and replacing the damaged cabinets and equipment, it also warned members of the public that it takes vandalism seriously and will not hesitate to refer offenders to the authorities. The town council said:

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“JCTC will not hesitate to refer persons damaging and misusing fire safety equipment to the authorities for investigation. JCTC is also looking into other steps to minimise the incidence of vandalism in the future, including changing the design of hose reel and fire extinguisher cabinets and their locking mechanisms.

“JCTC has set up a committee comprising of elected Town Councillors Mr Ang Wei Neng (as Chairman), Dr Tan Wu Meng and Mr Murali Pillai to recommend measures to ensure reliability of fire emergency equipment, beyond the actions already being taken. The committee will engage independent experts and residents before making its proposals for further corrective and preventive measures.”

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