SCDF's Internal Review of the 8 December 2022 Fire Incident at Block 91 Henderson Road
14 October 2023
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) notes that one of its officers will be charged in court on 16 October 2023 for an offence of causing grievous hurt by a rash act which endangers life or the personal safety of others, under Section 338(a) of the Penal Code 1871. This relates to the death of SGT1 (NSF) Edward H Go (SGT1 Edward) in the fire incident at Block 91 Henderson Road on 8 December 2022. As mentioned in the Police's press statement earlier today, the officer, SGT1 Edward's superior, had allegedly left SGT1 Edward alone in the housing unit to fight the ongoing fire, contrary to our firefighting doctrine, and failed in his responsibility to ensure SGT1 Edward's safety.
2. The Police have separately referred one other officer to the SCDF, in the context of SGT1 Edward's death, 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. If our investigation finds that this officer had contravened SCDF's doctrine on firefighting or standard operating procedures during the incident, we will take disciplinary action against him. Pending the outcome of the investigation, the officer has been redeployed to a non-supervisory and non-operational post.
3. Following the incident on 8 December 2022, we had convened an Internal Review Group to conduct a detailed after-action review (AAR). The AAR covered many aspects such as SCDF's firefighting procedures and operational safety, as well as equipping and training.
4. 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 recommended nevertheless, among others, that SCDF take 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.
5. As part of the AAR, we also audited over 260 firefighting operations from January 2021 to December 2022 where at least one firefighting waterjet was deployed, to assess whether they were conducted professionally, with appropriate command and control, and with adequate safety of our officers. We also delved deeper into 61 of these operations that required more than two firefighting waterjets, which would be considered a more challenging incident. The reports for these cases were carefully reviewed to understand the firefighting strategies employed, and nearly 150 officers covering a cross section of Section Commanders and firefighters involved in the operations were interviewed about their experiences and observations.
6. 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.
7. To reduce such incidences of individual lapses, we have introduced additional measures to enhance safety on the ground at fire incidents. For larger and more complex fires, our firefighting doctrine already requires the establishment of a staging and breathing apparatus control officer (BACO) control point, to assist in monitoring the deployment of firefighters, as well as to check on their personal protective equipment (PPE) before they enter the scene of the fire. Since 18 September 2023, we have introduced the same control point for smaller fires like residential unit fires, to strengthen command and control and safety.
8. The SCDF is strongly committed to the safety of our officers, as they carry out their mission of saving lives and properties.
9. We will continue to provide the fullest support and assistance to SGT1 Edward's family.
CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT
SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE
Saturday, 14 October 2023, 8.00 p.m.