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HomesingaporeHenderson Road fire: SCDF investigating second officer over NSF firefighter’s death

Henderson Road fire: SCDF investigating second officer over NSF firefighter’s death

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said on Saturday (Oct 14) that it is investigating a second officer after a firefighting operation at Henderson Road last December resulted in the death of full-time national serviceman Edward H Go

This follows a police statement which said that a 38-year-old SCDF officer will be charged over the death of Sergeant 1 (SGT1) Go.

The 19-year-old fell unconscious while battling the blaze and later died in hospital. He was the first firefighter to die because of an SCDF operation.

The police launched an investigation into the circumstances leading to the full-time national serviceman’s (NSF) death.

The first SCDF officer, who was SGT1 Go’s superior, had allegedly left him to battle the blaze in the flat alone – against SCDF protocols – without informing anyone, said the police.  

The officer will be charged on Monday with causing grievous hurt by a rash act which endangers the life or the personal safety of others.

In a press statement, SCDF said that the second officer was referred by the police for “departmental action”.

“This officer had allegedly failed to adequately ensure the overall safety of the firefighting operation when he subsequently arrived and took over command and control of the incident,” said SCDF.

SCDF commissioner Eric Yap said: “We will conduct a thorough investigation into the case, and if any lapses were to be found, we will take firm and fair disciplinary actions against the officer concerned.”

The officer has been redeployed to a non-supervisory and non-operational post, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Related:

SCDF officer to be charged over NSF firefighter’s death after Henderson Road fire

Family, friends bid final farewell to NSF firefighter who died battling Henderson Road blaze

“This incident and the findings of the police will no doubt dent SCDF’s good image, reputation and standing. It is especially painful because we have lost a colleague, and the SCDF has never lost anyone in a firefighting operation before this incident,” said Mr Yap in a message to all SCDF personnel.

“However, we will not shy away from the findings. We take responsibility for this, and will set things right.

“I ask for everyone’s support as we begin the hard work of regaining the trust and confidence of the public, as well as of the families who entrust their sons to the SCDF to serve their National Service.”

AUDIT FINDINGS

Following SGT1 Go’s death, SCDF convened an internal review group. “Overall, the review found that SCDF’s firefighting doctrine is systematically taught to our firefighters and its principles are well established on the ground,” it said.

“It recommended nevertheless, among others, that SCDF takes steps to comprehensively review the selection and training of our ground commanders.

“This includes enhancing the emphasis on command responsibility and conducting exercises to test their command and control capabilities. We have done so.”

As part of the review, more than 260 firefighting operations from January 2021 to December 2022 – where at least one firefighting water jet was deployed – were audited. It also looked deeper into 61 of these operations that required more than two firefighting water jets.

“The audit found that the operations had been conducted competently and safely, although there were occasional individual lapses, not uncommon in a dynamic situation like a firefighting operation,” said SCDF.

To reduce such lapses, SCDF said it has introduced additional measures to enhance safety on the ground during fires. 

Since Sep 18, it now has a “staging and breathing apparatus control officer control point” for smaller fires such as home fires.

This officer helps to monitor the deployment of firefighters, as well as check their personal protective equipment before they enter the scene of a fire.

This is already being done for larger and more complex fires.

“The SCDF is strongly committed to the safety of our officers, as they carry out their mission of saving lives and properties,” it said. 

“We will continue to provide the fullest support and assistance to SGT1 Go’s family.”

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