Fire extinguishers to be placed at lift lobbies of one in two HDB blocks islandwide

SINGAPORE – Fire extinguishers will be placed at the lift lobbies of one in every two Housing Board blocks for residents to use in the event of a fire.

The initiative is a trial by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), HDB, town councils and Temasek Foundation, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim in Parliament on Monday.

Ms Rachel Ong (West Coast GRC) had asked if the Home Affairs Ministry would consider placing fire extinguishers along common corridors of each HDB block, and about efforts to educate residents on their use. 

Her questions came after two fires in flats last month that involved hoarding, where one man died.

In response, Associate Professor Faishal said SCDF has been educating residents on how to use fire extinguishers through programmes such as the Community Emergency Preparedness Programme and Community Resilience Days, which are sessions organised to impart fire safety and other skills to the public.

SCDF also encourages residents to install fire extinguishers in their homes, and shares where hose reels are located in common areas, he added.

The Straits Times has asked SCDF for more details of the trial.

Ms Ong and Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) asked for updates on the free installation of Home Fire Alarm Devices in public rental flats, and whether MHA will consider installing these automatic smoke detectors in all lower-income households and in flats with seniors.

Prof Faishal said fire alarms have been installed in 75 per cent of all public rental flats under the scheme which was completed in June last year, and HDB will progressively install the devices in the remaining 25 per cent of rental flats after tenants move out.

He added that the Government currently does not intend to expand the scheme, as the number of fires in HDB estates each year has continued to decrease and deaths from fires remain low.

Responding to Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) on whether fire safety standards will be reviewed, he said SCDF regularly reviews the Fire Code together with other stakeholders.

He cited how since 2020, new residential buildings that exceed 24m in habitable height are required to have an apron wall or horizontal ledge on its facade to minimise the risk of fires spreading vertically. Habitable height refers to the height measured from the lowest fire engine accessway to the highest habitable floor.

Under the Fire Code, every residential unit is designed as a fire compartment to prevent the spread of fire beyond or into the unit, Prof Faishal noted.

Homes are required to have fire-rated doors, except where the unit faces an external corridor which will facilitate heat and smoke dissipation, he added.

Ms Foo also asked whether the policy on fire-rated doors can be reviewed to allow more such doors to be installed.

Prof Faishal said if the Fire Code requires the door to be fire rated, the cost will be covered under the Home Improvement Programme. Residents who want to install a fire rated door when it is not required will have to bear the additional cost themselves.