SINGAPORE: About 28,000 public rental flats have been shortlisted to have smoke detectors installed in their homes, at no charge to the tenants, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
The first round of installations will begin in mid-2018, and the remaining households will have the smoke detectors, also known as Home Fire Alarm Devices (HFAD), installed within three years, an SCDF spokesman told Channel NewsAsia.
The government aims to install HFADs in more than 50,000 public rental flats for free by 2021.
The spokesperson added that an installation schedule for rental homes in different towns is currently being worked out. Eligible households will be notified closer to their scheduled installation date.
Last month, the SCDF and Ministry of Home Affairs called for a tender for the first phase of installation of HFADs in public rental flats. The tender, which closed on Friday (Dec 29), saw 16 firms bid for the one-year contract.
SMOKE DETECTORS MANDATORY IN ALL NEW HOMES
This initiative comes after Second Minister of Home Affairs Josephine Teo announced the government’s plans to update the Fire Code last November. This would make smoke detectors mandatory in all new residential homes from June of this year.
In order to ensure that residents in rental flats – who are typically transient – are also covered, it was also announced that the SCDF, Housing Development Board (HDB) and the People’s Association (PA) would install HFADs for more than 50,000 public rental flats for free in phases.
Ms Joan Pereira told Channel NewsAsia that an average of three to four fires took place each year in her Henderson-Dawson Constituency between 2015 and 2017.
“Though not an alarmingly high figure, it worries me because fires can be fatal. And I’m particularly worried and concerned for our elderly who are less equipped to react to a fire,” said the Member of Parliament of Tanjong Pagar GRC.
“What is important is that our elderly must know when to replace their HFAD, or even to seek help to repair it if it is spoilt,” said Ms Pereira.
Ms Pereira had raised the question of who would take responsibility for the maintenance of such fire alarm devices in Parliament last October.
She added: “Therefore I hope that the authorities will inform our elderly this information during the installation phase. This message and information can be reiterated and reinforced by my grassroots leaders and I during our walk-abouts, house visits, and even during the training programmes that we organise for our residents.”
Dr Lee Bee Wah, Member of Parliament of Nee Soon GRC, said that community support is also vital as a first line of response in times of emergency.
“Look out for one another, especially if you have neighbours who are elderly or have very young children, as they may need help from time to time."
Dr Lee recalled a fire that happened last year in Nee Soon South.
"I was quite happy with the way the residents helped each other," she said.
"Everyone was brought down to ground floor safely, though it was midnight and many residents were already asleep. But they helped one another and brought everyone to the ground floor, even before the fire engine and police arrived."