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Harsher penalties for those who cause fire hazards

Harsher penalties for those who cause fire hazards

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 15 Sep 2020
Author: Cara Wong

SCDF can now prosecute immediately, as part of amendments to Fire Safety Act.

From yesterday, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) can immediately prosecute those who create serious fire safety risks, such as obstructing fire escape routes, as amendments to the Fire Safety Act come into effect.

The Act, which was passed in Parliament last year, spells out stronger regulatory and enforcement powers for the SCDF in ensuring fire safety and introduces new offences to stop the use of non-compliant fire safety products.

Among the key changes are enhanced penalties for irresponsible industry professionals who fail to properly supervise and certify fire safety works.

The SCDF will also be empowered to mandate building owners to improve their fire safety features, such as by installing fire alarm systems and fire hose reels.

"SCDF will adopt a judicious, risk-based approach in identifying buildings for fire safety upgrades, and will work closely with the building owners to enhance the fire safety of their buildings," said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in a statement last Friday.

The need for stricter fire safety regulations was highlighted in the past year, with firefighters discovering faulty fire safety equipment while responding to fire incidents.

In one incident last November, firemen attending to a fire in a Bukit Batok Housing Board flat found that the hose reel cabinets in the vicinity had been padlocked and the hose reels were dry. A woman, 60, who was rescued from the fire later died in the hospital.

The Jurong-Clementi Town Council was subsequently served Fire Hazard Abatement Notices for not complying with fire safety requirements.

Last month, firefighters discovered a faulty wet riser in a Toa Payoh HDB block while responding to a fire there. Investigations are still ongoing.

Before yesterday, SCDF could take prosecutorial action only when the errant parties who cause fire safety risks fail to comply with their notices, said MHA.

However, with the new amendments to the Fire Safety Act, the SCDF can take immediate prosecutorial action.

The SCDF will soon be able to demand that all non-compliant fire safety products be removed, disposed of or recalled.

It will also be illegal for anyone to supply or install such products, with the SCDF able to take action against any party in the supply chain.

In the statement, the MHA also announced that emergency preparedness measures must be put in place at buildings being used as hospitals, nursing homes, disability homes and worker dormitories.

The SCDF will be empowered to specify what type of Company Emergency Response Team and fire safety equipment are required at the different premises.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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