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Bukit Batok fire: Town Council investigating contractor's claim that fire hose reel was working, says MP Murali

Bukit Batok fire: Town Council investigating contractor's claim that fire hose reel was working, says MP Murali

Firefighters from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responding to a fire that broke out in a flat in Bukit Batok on Nov 1, 2019. (Photo: Facebook/SCDF)

SINGAPORE: The Jurong-Clementi Town Council is investigating claims by the contractor responsible for maintaining the fire hose reels at Block 210A Bukit Batok Street 21 that they were in working condition, after firefighters were unable to use them during a blaze at a flat earlier this month.

The contractor, JKeart Pte Ltd, had "insisted that there was water supply to the hose reel" at the time of the fire and had even provided a video of it in working condition to the Town Council later that day, said Member of Parliament (MP) Murali Pillai in a Facebook post on Friday (Nov 15).

"This led to Town Council meeting SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force) officers earlier this week to provide what JKeart showed," said Mr Murali.

"After consulting SCDF, Town Council issued a statement accepting SCDF’s position on the matter. It is now investigating JKeart’s assertions," he added.

Mr Murali's comments come after SCDF said on Saturday that it had issued a warning to the Town Council, citing hose reel cabinets that had been padlocked and no access to water supply during the blaze. Three people were injured in the fire.

The Town Council said on Wednesday in response to SCDF's warning that the hose reels had undergone maintenance and testing in mid-October and had been certified to be in working condition.

It added on Thursday that the cabinets had been padlocked to prevent vandalism.

On Friday, Mr Murali said that the Town Council had identified two officers responsible for "directing the padlocking of the fire hose compartments".

"This was a mistake on their part. They have admitted to their mistakes," said Mr Murali.

"The Town Council management will pursue disciplinary action against them."

In his post, Mr Murali also said that he holds himself "politically accountable" for the fire hose issues.

"As your elected representative, I am accountable to you for both issues. These incidents should not have happened and, for that, I must apologise," he said.

Leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) Chee Soon Juan commended Mr Murali for providing a "full accounting" of events.

In a Facebook post, Dr Chee said: "I commend Mr Murali for addressing the matter of the fire incident at Block 210A at BB (Bukit Batok)."

"I am gratified to note that the town council is investigating the inconsistencies and dubious practices, and that it will take action where needed," he added.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said, reporting from MP Murali Pillai's post, that the Singapore Civil Defence Force is investigating claims by a contractor that the fire hose reels at an HDB block in Bukit Batok were in working condition during a fire. It is the Town Council that is investigating the contractor's claims. We apologise for the error.

Source: CNA/nr(aj)


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