The fire hose reel at Blk 210A in Bukit Batok was “working properly at the date and time of the fire”, according to a legal counsel for JKeart, the contractor responsible for maintaining the hose reel at the block.
In a Facebook message from the legal counsel to Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan, which was seen by TOC on Thu (14 Nov), it was stated that JKeart’s office had received a call from the Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JCTC) – the town council that runs the Bukit Batok block at around 7.05 am.
The caller informed JKeart about the fire, and the residents’ complaint regarding no water in the hose reel, which was deemed to be a “malfunction of the HR and its pump system”.
“At 7.40am, our client’s team arrived at the scene on the 13th Storey of Bloc 210 and inspected the scene together with at least one officer of JCTC.
“Our client’s team in the presence of the JCTC officer noted that the Inlet Valve was still in the closed position.
“The Inlet Valve is a round tap or faucet located at the base of the water pipe that is connected to the HR. It is kept closed or shut so that there is no water in the hose itself until needed to fight a fire,” according to the legal counsel.
The counsel added that the hose reel is “housed in a metal cabinet with a door”, with “printed Instructions on the exterior of the door” which “remind users to turn on the Inlet Valve before running out and using the HR”.
Claiming that JKeart’s team had turned on the inlet valve in the presence of the JCTC officer, the counsel said that the hose reel had “then functioned properly with water flow”.
“Our clients team together with the JCTC officer then inspected and tested the HR on the 12th and 14th Storey as well. Both these HR were functioning properly with water flow once the Inlet Valve was opened,” he added.
“It would appear that the person or persons trying to extinguish the fire may overlooked the Instructions on the cabinet door on how to properly use the HR.
“The person or persons overlooked to turn on the water and turn on the tap faucet (Inlet Valve). This naturally resulted in there being no water flow in the hose,” said the legal counsel.
The legal counsel noted that the town council officer had “signed off” on JKeart’s team Job Sheet on 1 Nov, thus “confirming that the hose reel pump system was in normal working condition”.
SDP chief alleges that JCTC did not reveal inspection on the morning after the fire, questions why “a misleading report” was made
Dr Chee, in a Facebook post on Tue (12 Nov), pointed out that JCTC did not reveal that “an inspection was made on the morning right after the fire and hosereel was certified to be working”.
Stating that JCTC’s claim contradicted SCDF’s report, Dr Chee questioned the town council as to why “such a misleading report” was made.
“The JCTC has responded to the fire incident at BB Blk 210A saying that the hose reels at the block “last underwent maintenance and testing by the appointed contractor on Oct 14, and certified to be in working condition.”
“But it accepted the SCDF’s finding that the hosereel in question was not working during the fire.
“Time of the report: 9:30 am. (The fire occurred at about 4:30 am that day.) Action taken: “Check and found Hosereel pump system normal working condition.” This contradicts SCDF’s report.
“Can JCTC confirm this Job Sheet and, if this is true, why was such a misleading report made? In the interest of full transparency, why did it not reveal this fact?” said Dr Chee.
SCDF earlier issued warning to JCTC for non-compliance
Earlier on 5 Nov, SCDF responded to Dr Chee’s feedback regarding the non-functioning hose reel, stating that its officers “have done a follow up” with the Jurong Town Council, under which the Bukit Batok is managed.
“Town Councils are responsible for the maintenance of their estate’s fire safety measures and ensuring that they are functioning and well-maintained.
“SCDF officers will be inspecting the premises to ensure the Town Council’s compliance with the fire safety requirement. Enforcement action will be taken in the event of non-compliance,” said SCDF.
Dr Chee, who had earlier visited the unit on 3 Nov following the fire incident, pointed out that he was informed that the Fire Hose Reel on the floor was not functioning at the time the fire broke out – despite having been certified for inspection last month – due to an absence of water.
JCTC was subsequently issued a warning by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) after it was found that firefighters who were attending to a fire at Bukit Batok discovered that there was no water supply from the fire hose reels at the block.
According to a statement issued to the media, several of the hose reel cabinets had been padlocked. Even after firefighters broke one of the padlocks, they were still unable to use the fire hose reel because there was no water supply, said SCDF.
Following the fire incident, SCDF notified JCTC about the padlocked cabinets and the malfunctioning fire hose reels, and subsequently performed an inspection with town council representatives.
JCTC was then issued Fire Hazard Abatement Notices, which serve as warnings to rectify the non-compliance. In this instance, it would mean ensuring that the hose reels are functioning and are not locked, said SCDF.
Should non-compliances of the same nature be detected during a re-inspection by SCDF, the Town Council could be liable for a composition fine or even prosecution, warned SCDF.
“SCDF has since verified through onsite inspections that the fire hose reels at the block are now accessible and in working order,” added the Force.
Three rescued from fire at Bukit Batok flat via aerial ladder; cause of fire under investigation
Firefighters from Bukit Batok Fire Station and Jurong Fire Station responded to an alert regarding the fire at around 4.31 a.m, and that a Combined Platform Ladder 60m (CPL60) was deployed to conduct an aerial rescue, SCDF said last Fri.
“A man in his 60’s and another man in his 30’s were found standing on the ledge outside the kitchen’s window. A vast accumulation of items in the kitchen limited the working space for the firefighters. This, coupled with the two men being highly exhausted, prevented the firefighters from pulling them safely into the unit.
“From within the unit, firefighters used ropes to secure the two men. Thereafter, rescuers from SCDF’s elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) rapelled from the unit above and brought the two men into the CPL60’s rescue cage. The men were brought down to the ground floor and were attended to by SCDF paramedics,” said SCDF.
The men were brought down to the ground floor and were attended to by SCDF paramedics.
Dr Chee called the SCDF rescue via aerial ladder a “dangerous mission” that was “executed expertly”.
The three casualties were conveyed to Singapore General Hospital for burn injuries and smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
TOC has earlier written to JKeart this week for comments regarding the discrepancy between the legal counsel’s statement and what was told to Dr Chee on the morning of the fire, as well as the SCDF’s statement regarding the Fire Hazard Abatement Notices to JCTC. However, we have not received a response as of press time.