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Contractor issued summons for erecting tent that delayed SCDF's arrival to Henderson Road blaze

According to Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, the contractor, Tai Tiong (Red/White) Metal Tents Centre, said that the tent was built to regulations.

SINGAPORE: The contractor responsible for putting up a funeral wake tent that obstructed a service road, leading to a delay in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)'s response to a fire at Henderson Road, has been issued a summons by the Tanjong Pagar Town Council. 

As the fire engine accessway was blocked off, the arrival of SCDF firefighters to the blaze on Dec 8, 2022 was delayed by 18 minutes.

Minister of State for the Ministry of Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said in Parliament on Monday (Jan 9): "The officers removed the bollards that were padlocked to the ground near the tentage to create an access path. This delayed their arrival by 18 minutes."

A 19-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF), Edward H Go, subsequently died on the same day.

The town council confirmed on Tuesday that the tentage had been erected at a fire access point. 

They added: "(Tanjong Pagar) Town Council carried out enforcement action against the tentage contractor in accordance with the town council By-laws and issued a summons to the company for obstructing the service road.

According to Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, the contractor, Tai Tiong (Red/White) Metal Tents Centre, said that the tent, measuring about 9.8m long and about 5.5m wide, was built to regulations.

The contractor added: "Tents are set up for chanting and practice. We have always pitched tents according to the prescribed size."

The town council said that its By-laws list for common property and open spaces "list the rules for the use of common property", saying that their officers "conduct regular inspections on the ground".

"In this case, the tentage was put up on Dec 7 evening and the fire incident occurred on Dec 8 morning," they added.

A spokesperson from the Association of Funeral Directors Singapore said that HDB public spaces are used for many events, including funeral wakes, weddings and grassroots events.

The practice of holding wakes at the void deck is a holdover from kampung days when friends and family lived in the same village, he said.

“The applicant to use common spaces within a precinct does have the responsibility to ensure that the event is carried out with minimal inconveniences and comply with the terms and conditions set forth by the town council," said the spokesperson

"Funeral directors are mindful that funerals are conducted using common spaces and they reiterate to the bereaved family the do's and the don'ts on the use of common spaces."

Sergeant 1 Go fell unconscious while fighting the fire and died in hospital. He was the first firefighter to have lost his life during an operation by SCDF.

Source: CNA/rc(sn)


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