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Published: 17 Feb 2012 10:23AM (Singapore)
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Fire safety in common corridors
Decorations and wet clothes left outside homes, these are obstructions that can fuel a fire or hinder emergency responders. SCDF has enhanced the safety guidelines of common corridor use. We all play a part in the safety of our neighborhood so do find out more.
 
By Yuvaraj Uthaman

Obstruction to emergency crew access due to constricted corridor (left). Ambulance crew and wheel chair bounded person requires at least 1.2 metres clear width for access (right). PHOTO: SCDF

All it takes is a carelessly tossed lighted material like a cigarette butt to spark off a blaze fuelled by discarded items in a common corridor.

Such fires make up about 22 per cent of residential fires in 2011 - the second largest type of residential fires.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) annual statistics for 2011 reported an 11.6 per cent drop in the number of such fires; from 801 cases in 2010 to 708 in 2011.

While the improvement is good news, SCDF hopes to prevent even more cases.

Considering public feedback and working with the Town Councils and Housing and Development Board (HDB), SCDF has developed more specific guidelines on the safe and acceptable use of common corridors.

The enhanced guide will not only help streamline the public use of common corridors but will facilitate Town Councils in managing its use.

Starting from Feb 2012, the SCDF, in collaboration with the National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council (NFEC) and Town Councils will be conducting a public education campaign to raise awareness about the new guidelines.

Publicity posters will go up in some parts of the neighbourhood and pamphlets will be distributed during Emergency Preparedness Days and Community Emergency Preparedness Programmes.

Discarded items in common areas like corridors, staircases and lift landings can fuel fires, block evacuation routes and hinder emergency responders from getting to victims in an emergency.

SCDF encourages residents to call Town Councils to help remove bulky items like cupboards and sofas and adopt the new safety guidelines.

Over the years, SCDF has been working with the councils to reduce the number of fires in HDB estates.

This includes putting up public education banners since 2009 and holding dialogues.

While residential fires make up the largest type of fires with 3,254 cases in 2011, the overall number of blazes had decreased to a 15-year low in 2011. 

SCDF said public education efforts by SCDF and their community partners such as NFEC and the Community Emergency and Engagement Committees (C2Es) had helped.  

One such effort that helps bring the message closer to home is the post-fire public education blitz.

Today, after a fire at a residential block, SCDF will work with the neighbourhood’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Town council to set up a mobile exhibition at the void deck of the affected block.

To drive home the damaging impact of fires, the exhibition will show actual pictures of the post-fire scene.

In addition, CERT members will visit house-to-house to raise fire safety awareness and distribute pamphlets with fire prevention tips.

Another initiative is the Civil Defence (CD) Ready Homes programme. 

Launched in April 2011, 16,000 households have taken part.

The programme educates the public on the need to be emergency prepared and it provides a checklist to help residents assess if they have are adequately prepared for a crisis.

SCDF hopes more people will get themselves emergency prepared as fire safety is a collective community responsibility and everyone should play their part.

Click here to get the CD Ready Home self-validation checklist which is available in all four official languages on SCDF’s website. You can also collect it at Civil Defence Divisions and Community Clubs.

To see the enhanced fire safety guidelines for the use of common areas, click here.

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