New firefighting system, VR training among upcoming initiatives unveiled by SCDF

New firefighting system, VR training among upcoming initiatives unveiled by SCDF

Other new technologies the Singapore Civil Defence Force is introducing include new diving equipment for unlimited air supply and medical support vehicles.

Tackling large-scale fires will get easier for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) from 2020. At its annual work plan seminar on Thursday (May 9), SCDF unveiled a new fire-fighting system - the modular oil tank firefighting system (MOTFS). Other new technologies were also introduced to increase the range of tactical options for high-rise fire and rescue operations. Ahmad Khan with this report.

SINGAPORE: Tackling large-scale fires will get easier for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) from next year. 

At its annual work plan seminar on Thursday (May 9), SCDF unveiled a new fire-fighting system - the modular oil tank firefighting system (MOTFS) - that can pump out 100,000L of water per minute with two of its monitors. 

The current system now deploys four monitors which can pump 60,000L of water, which mean the new MOTFS monitors will take up less space when they are deployed. 

Citing the 2018 fire on Pulau Busing which took six hours to extinguish, director of operations Assistant Commissioner Daniel Seet said that the MOTFS will help SCDF to fight fires involving large or multiple oil tanks.

“Had this system been (introduced at) Pulau Busing, we would have had to deploy a lot lesser equipment on site. That actually helps tremendously because in any oil refinery system, space is a premium,” said Mr Seet.

"The laying of equipment on site is always the most resource-intensive. So with the collapse of the entire system into largely two guns, we are able to then save time and resources needed to set up this system."

Currently, a fixed number of large monitors and equipment is deployed to each incident, regardless of scale. 

The MOTFS comprises pumps, hoses and monitors in a modular form, which can be quickly deployed in various combinations to match the scale of the incident. 

An automated hose retrieval system will also reduce fatigue for firefighters, said SCDF.

Water supply capabilities are also enhanced with a submersible pump unit that allows a large quantity of water to be drawn directly from an open water source, such as the sea, and supplied to a pump placed up to 50m away. 

Currently, a large pump has to be confined to land not more than 3m away from the surface.

“Once all the equipment is in place, we’ll start to train our personnel to orientate them to the new system and then conduct a series of exercises both internally, and also with the industry partners before we operationalise this equipment,” said Mr Seet.

READ: Pulau Busing oil storage tank fire extinguished after 'massive operation': SCDF

AERIAL FIRE-FIGHTING

Other new technologies were also introduced to increase the range of tactical options for high-rise fire and rescue operations.

For example, the new Combined Platform Ladder 60m is able to extend up to the maximum height of a 20-storey building. It is also equipped with a water monitor capable of discharging water at a rate of 3,800L per minute, and a rescue cage that can hold up to 500kg of weight.

SCDF is also looking to acquire a longer 90m version.


NEW MEDICAL SUPPORT VEHICLE

SCDF also announced enhancements to its medical support vehicle (MSV) which allows the provision of pre-hospital medical care during both peacetime and national emergencies.

SCDF workplan seminar 5
SCDF also announced enhancements to its medical support vehicle. (Photo: Corine Tiah)

A new facility within the MSV provides a clean environment with the inclusion of an air evacuation system and surgical light that allows SCDF officers to perform on-site stabilisation and critical invasive treatments.

It also allows a single SCDF responder to transport an individual of up to 318kg with ease.

UNLIMITED AIR SUPPLY FOR UNDERWATER RESCUE

The Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) unveiled its new surface supplied diving equipment, which provides an unlimited air supply to the diver, allowing for prolonged underwater search-and-rescue operations.

SCDF workplan seminar 4
The Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team unveiled its new surface supplied diving equipment. (Photo: Corine Tiah)

Previously, DART divers were limited to about 40 minutes of underwater operations with an air cylinder, before having to resurface for air.

Once deployed, a DART diver will be fully encapsulated in a dry suit and hard hat, and attached to a surface air supply system for his primary source of air. An accompanying air cylinder will be his backup air supply, said SCDF.

Speaking at the work plan seminar, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said SCDF is "transforming its line of technology" due to urban development and a more complex physical environment.

"SCDF has been one of the organisations that have really incorporated tech into its day-to-day operations in a very significant way," the minister said. 

USING VIRTUAL REALITY AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN TRAINING

An artificial intelligence (AI) system that transcribes 995 calls in real time is another innovation being tested by the SCDF.

Mr Shanmugam said, "The system has been trained to recognise speech, can transcribe and log emergency calls and it is programmed to recognise the four official languages plus the fifth, Singlish."

He noted that the SCDF receives close to 200,000 calls a year.

"If the trial is successful, it will significantly reduce the time taken to process emergency calls," he added.

ASR995
The ASR995 transcribing a call in Singlish. 

SCDF is also rolling out a series of initiatives using science and virtual reality to optimise the training of emergency responders such as paramedics.

For example, there will be new training facilities which simulate a realistic training environment for emergency medical services.

Plans are also in the pipeline to use mixed reality, where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. 

Diverse and complex scenarios can be created quickly and users are guided step-by-step through a self-directed learning platform, with instant feedback provided through colour queues, said SCDF.

SCDF workplan seminar 2
SCDF is also rolling out a series of initiatives using science and virtual reality to optimise training of emergency responders. (Photo: Corine Tiah)

SCDF workplan seminar 1
SCDF is also rolling out a series of initiatives using science and virtual reality to optimise training of emergency responders. (Photo: Corine Tiah)

The organisation is looking to explore the use of VR technology to put firefighter trainees in multiple mission environments, which can include a render of an existing building. This will also provide an objective during- and after action review that shows what can be improved upon.

PARTNERING COMMUNITIES

SCDF also signed a memorandum of intent with both Mercy Relief and Singapore Red Cross to provide humanitarian volunteering opportunities for Civil Defence Lionhearters and their schoolmates.

“These youth volunteers are crucial to inspire and motivate their peers as well as the next generation towards volunteerism and community first response,” said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin.

As part of the work plan seminar, Mr Shanmugam also launched the Improvised First Aid Skills Plus to educate members of the public on how to use everyday items to stop excessive bleeding during emergencies. 

K Shanmugam SCDF Workplan seminar
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam demonstrating a first aid technique at the 2019 SCDF Workplan Seminar.
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He said that getting the public involved is "very important" as the SCDF will face more challenges, with rising medical needs from an ageing population and manpower constraints caused by low birth rates.

"When the community gets involved, our work becomes easier. People who need help - their chances of survival also improve. So we want to encourage everyone to join SCDF on this journey," added Mr Shanmugam.

Source: CNA/nc(rw/hm)

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