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Singapore Civil Defence Force To Improve Fire Safety

SCDF’s new initiatives to improve operations in changing environment.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will pursue new initiatives in infrastructure, technology, public outreach and fire safety, said Minister Shanmugam.

These include an overhaul of SCDF’s command and control system; and a demerit point system to improve fire safety.

The SCDF Workplan Presentation at The Civil Defence Academy Auditorium – Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Law and Second Minister for Home Affairs, 9 May 2010

Commissioner Peter Lim, Officers of the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon

The theme for this workplan seminar is “Service and Excellence through innovation and collaboration”. This theme is set against the backdrop of the dynamic changes to SCDF’s operating environment.

SCDF as a member of the Home Team must stay nimble, constantly innovate, and adapt to the changing environment. In the coming year, we can look forward to the four new areas to be pursued by the SCDF, namely in infrastructure, technology, public outreach drive and fire safety initiatives.

New Infrastructures

First, the SCDF will continue to roll out its new infrastructure plans. SCDF’s infrastructure plans have to evolve in tandem with the growth and expansion of Singapore’s land use. The opening of the new Banyan Fire Station at Jurong Island this year is an example. Along with Jurong Island Fire Station, Banyan Fire Station, which also incorporates HAZMAT response capability, will provide comprehensive and speedy emergency response services for the whole island. Such in-situ capabilities, whether it be a fire station or some other facility, is vital in Singapore because response time is critical. Three more fire stations are in the pipeline – Marina Bay, Tuas View and Sentosa. These are targeted to be commissioned in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. These fire stations are being built to support the changing environment of these areas to ensure that there are no operational gaps in SCDF’s response to fires and emergencies in these areas.

New Technologies

In addition to infrastructure, it is also essential for SCDF to use new technologies to enhance its capabilities. There are three major technology projects that the SCDF will be rolling out in the near future.

The first is the enhancement of the SCDF’s Public Warning System or “PWS”, into a new Integrated Warning and Alert System, or “iWAS” for short. Commissioned almost 20 years ago, the PWS is a public warning system for imminent threats that could endanger lives and property. With the newly enhanced iWAS, emergency messages can be broadcast across additional channels such as mobile phones and the Internet. This will address the current limitations of indoor coverage.

The second project is the use of simulators for training. This will enhance SCDF’s training capabilities. Leveraging on technology such as those used in simulation software and gaming technology, supported by 2D and 3D terrain modelling, SCDF officers can undergo a full sensory, interactive and immersive experience with these virtual training simulators. With this technology, realistic operational situations closely resembling those that frontline officers face on a day-to-day basis can be created. This allows officers to hone their skills in a realistic and yet safe environment.

A third technology project in the pipeline is the overhaul of SCDF’s command and control system, also known as the ACES project. SCDF had announced last year that it has awarded a $34 million contract to roll out a new command and control system in two years time. The system will allow the SCDF to better serve the public, by improving the way 995 calls are handled and how resources are deployed. It will also allow SCDF officers better appreciation of the ground situations so that incidents can be better handled.

New Drive in Public Education

The third area of focus is public awareness and readiness. SCDF’s continued operational successes are also dependent on whether it is able to continue to rely on strong public support. Public education continues to play an important role to ensure that we are always ready and prepared for emergencies. SCDF will engage in a renewed drive to educate the public.

In a recent public perception survey conducted by the SCDF in January this year, 93 per cent of the 1,500 respondents interviewed saw SCDF as playing a key role in the provision of emergency response services. There was however an area of concern: 46 percent of the respondents gave feedback that a lack of time prevented them from attending training lessons. This is an indication of the challenge we face. Over the years, SCDF has introduced several programmes such as free emergency preparedness training and web-based education programmes. We need to get people to participate in these training programmes so that they can sustain their level of readiness to enable them to respond appropriately.

Hence, as a further extension of its current outreach efforts, SCDF will be conducting EP Awareness Training Programmes in the heartlands from this year. This is a new partnership with the People’s Association to teach grassroots leaders and residents essential emergency preparedness knowledge. Through the programme, members of public will be taught EP skills such as what to do should there be a fire outbreak and dealing with unconventional threats. This programme will widen SCDF’s outreach to the community.

New Fire Safety Initiative

Fourth is fire safety. Most people view fire safety issues seriously and participate actively in fire prevention. However unfortunately there are some who continue to flout fire safety rules despite knowing the dangers.

SCDF has encountered cases where business operators repeatedly breach fire safety requirements leading to increase risk to lives in the event of a fire despite having been hauled to court and fined numerous times. SCDF is looking into putting in place measures to deal with this.

Hence, SCDF intends to introduce a Demerit Point System or DPS which will enable SCDF to track repeat fire safety offenders and take the appropriate enforcement actions against them. Under the new DPS enforcement framework, repeat offenders will be tracked and flagged from the onset. SCDF also intends to impose incremental punitive actions such as requiring the offender to commit to a fire safety plan and requiring the removal of the fire hazards under supervision. If such offenders do not show improvement, we intend to press for more deterrent actions, such as temporary suspension of operations when a certain threshold of repeat offences has been reached.

These proposals aim to encourage a change of mindset and instill self-discipline amongst business operators. We want business operators to proactively take corrective action to address fire safety gaps before SCDF takes tougher enforcement actions against them. We will share more about the DPS at a later date.


While the SCDF continues to innovate and adapt its core values remain strong. In a survey conducted by the Reader’s Digest in Oct 2009, fire-fighters topped a list of 40 jobs as inspiring the greatest trust in Singaporeans. As a ‘life-saving force”, it is important for SCDF to remain true to its core mission.

The SCDF has developed robustly over the years to become the highly-regarded organization it is today. Let your past achievements continue to further inspire and propel you towards greater heights in future excellence. On this note, I wish all of you a fruitful programme ahead.

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