SCDF to outsource ‘straightforward’ fire safety enforcement checks

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will now outsource fire safety checks that are non-complex to a third-party provider. “In view of the increasing operational demands, coupled with manpower constraints, SCDF has decided to outsource straightforward enforcement checks to a third-party provider,” it said in a news release. “This will allow SCDF officers to focus on more complex enforcement checks that require a higher level of fire safety knowledge and expertise.”

SCDF will appoint a consortium from the Singapore First Aid Training Centre and ERCM Consultancy to provide supplementary enforcement officers. The organisations were selected through an open tender. Enforcement checks are currently done by uniformed SCDF officers. Those appointed by the third-party providers will put on an SCDF-issued vest that would clearly identify them on the job.

The move comes after the amended Fire Safety Act took effect in September last year, empowering SCDF to appoint third parties to conduct enforcement checks. Since 2016, SCDF has conducted an average of 13,600 enforcement checks annually, issuing an average of 2,600 Fire Hazard Abatement Notices (FHANs). “A sizable number of these fire safety infringements were straightforward and not complex in nature,” SCDF said.

“For example, between 2016 and 2020, around 27 percent of FHANs issued were for non-functioning exit signs and emergency lights.” The supplementary enforcement officers will only conduct fire safety checks and site inspections involving straightforward infringements that can be verified visually, SCDF said.

Examples include the unauthorised change of use of premises such as using basement car parks as storage areas, obstruction of escape paths and fire engine accessway, the lack of maintenance of firefighting equipment such as fire hose reels, as well as non-functioning exit signs and emergency lights. “SCDF takes a very serious view of fire safety and will continue to conduct frequent fire safety enforcement checks, both proactively and in response to public feedback,” it said. “Fire safety is a collective responsibility and members of the public are encouraged to report any fire safety infringements they come across.”