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General

Local Major Incidents

Pulau Merlimau Fire

Background

Singapore Refining Company (SRC) situated on the southern island of Singapore. It contains several tank of chemical including three tanks of naptha that involved in the incident. On 25 Oct 88 at 1.27 pm, one of their naptha tanks caught fire and SRC Fire Service immediately despatched their 2 pumpers, 1 Aerial Platform, 1 Foam Tender and 1 Equipment Tender to respond to the fire. At the same time, SRC also activated the Singapore Fire Service (SFS) Main Operation Centre (MOC). Due to the rapid build-up of the fire, the situation escalated. The fire spread to the two other similar and nearby tanks. This nearly become an island-wide disaster.

Description of Operations

On 25 Oct 88 at 1.27 pm, SFS MOC was activated by SRC. SFS HQ immediately assumed overall command and to be the incident manager. The immediate tasks undertaken by SFS were as follows:

  1. Activation of related agencies

  2. Grouping and tasks

  3. Command and Control

  4. Recall Network

  5. Land and Sea Transportation Plan

  6. Appliances and Equipment

  7. Foam Compound

  8. Medical Evacuation Plan

  9. Contingency Plan

After SFS MOC was being activated, SCDF HQ and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) MOC were activated to convey the foam compound from the mainland to the incident scene. In addition, PSA Fire Service had sent their 3 Fire Boats. Shell had sent 1 Foam Carrier and 1 Equipment Tender, whereas PCS also had sent 1 Foam Carrier to help out in the fire-fighting.

 

A Forward Command Post was established at SRC. The incident site was divided into various sectors. Senior and more experienced officers who were either from SFS or Division HQ Staff elements were deployed to supervise and handle the ground operation. The assisting parties from related agencies were properly detailed and briefed of their respective tasks. The status of command and control was defined to the other parties involved in the operations. Situational reports from the ground force and related agencies were constantly updated to the SFS MOC, which in turn regularly reported to the Ministry of Home Affair. In addition, SFS personnel were also recall back to their respective station through the pagers recall network. They were either sent out for deployment or on standby for any demand of manpower.

 

Due to the incident site is on an offshore island and large number of personnel and equipment needed, Singapore Police Force (SPF) buses, SAF 3-tonners and private buses were called in to provide the land transportation. SRC ferrying service and SAF Ramp Powered Launcher (RPL) provided the sea transportation of personnel and equipment and vehicles respectively.

 

Initially, appliances and equipment were found to be not sufficient for foaming operation as SFS Foam Tenders were not capable discharging large quantity of foam at a shorter time. 2 Pathfinder from the Airport Fire Service, 1 Foam Tender from Esso and 2 Foam Carrier from Public Utilities Board were called in for foaming operation. After 8 hours of chemical fire fighting, the foam compound was barely sufficient to sustain the operation. 5 lorry of Foam Compounds were also requested from BP, Mobil and Caltex.

 

A Medical Evacuation Plan was planned out. A First Aid point was set up at the incident site, ambulance was standby at the jetty and hospital was also on standby for any sudden major in-rush of casualties. In addition, a contingency plans on evacuation was catered for the SFS personnel and related agencies if the fire was to escalate.

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Last updated on 18th Feb 2012