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Published: 02 Feb 2011 11:43AM (Singapore)
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Flushing down chute fires
2010 saw one of the lowest numbers of fires since 2003 but the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) continues to tap on innovative ways to snuff those figures down.
By Haikal Jamari

When residents of Block 72 at Redhill Road detect fire or smoke coming from the rubbish chute, the press of a red button at the ground floor lift lobby activates a gush of water that will help flush the fire out.

This is a pilot project between Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Tanjong Pagar Town Council, Housing Development Board and National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council (NFEC).

Refuse chute fires dropped by three per cent from 1,285 in 2009 to 1,241 in 2010.

However, it still remains a main concern as it makes up one in three residential fires.

This was revealed at their annual review on the fire, ambulance and enforcement situation.

SCDF says that while such fires are not life threatening and does not cause significant property damage, it causes unnecessary strain on emergency resources.

Currently, all high-rise HDB refuse chutes are equipped with a flushing system for town councils to clean chutes and it is only accessible by the refuse collector.

This project hopes to seek an innovative way of using the existing flushing system to help extinguish incipient fires.

SCDF credits such community engagement and fire safety public education for helping to reduce fire incidents in the last several years.

2010 saw one of the lowest numbers of fires in the past decade with 4,600 incidents. The only other year in the past decade with fewer fires is in 2003 where there were 4,540 blazes.

Other areas that have seen improvements are cases involving unattended cooking, commercial fires and vegetation fires.

Despite improvements, fire fighters remain concerned about one other type of fire – blazes involving discarded items.

Such fires saw a 24 per cent increase from 644 blazes in 2009 to 801 in 2010.

Such fires involve items discarded along emergency exit areas like corridors, lift lobbies, staircases and void decks.

SCDF advises residents not to discard unwanted items outside of their home or at common areas such as corridors and lift lobbies.

These can fuel fires when lighted materials like cigarette butts get in contact with them.

SCDF said residents should contact their Town Councils or Management Office to dispose unwanted bulky items.

SCDF reminds the public to be cautious and minimise fire hazards. Simple fire safety tips can prevent injuries and damage to properties.

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