SWO (RET) Selamat Abdul Jalil, Tactical Advisor at the Abu Dhabi Civil Defence Academy (ADCDA)
Meet SWO (RET) Selamat Abdul Jalil who has spent over two decades of his life as a firefighter and five years as a Senior Instructor at SCDF’s Civil Defence Academy (CDA). During his posting at CDA from 2009 to 2014, he provided Urban Search and
Rescue (USAR) training not only to local firefighters, but also to international trainees from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In 2014, he began a new chapter in his post-retirement career as a Tactical Advisor at the
Abu Dhabi Civil Defence Academy (ADCDA).
The ADCDA is located in the UAE. After attaining the United Nations INSARAG External Classification (IEC) Medium USAR Team certification in December 2009, the UAE Urban Search
and Rescue Team invited the joint SCDF/COSEM team to Abu Dhabi from 28 November to 16 December 2010 to prepare for their Heavy Certification application. SWO (RET) Selamat
was part of the five-man SCDF/COSEM team led by AC (RET) Yazid Abdullah.
It has been eight years since SWO (RET) Selamat went over to Abu Dhabi. Rescue 995 caught up with him through a virtual call this month and engaged him in an exclusive interview on his experiences at ADCDA as well as his memorable postings
SWO (RET) Selamat was then Staff Sergeant and Rota Leader at Ang Mo Kio fire station (1998 to 2007)
Rescue 995: Share with us your personal journey with the SCDF and what eventually led you to become a Tactical Advisor at ADCDA?
SWO (RET) Selamat: I joined SCDF, previously known as the Singapore Fire Service, as a firefighter on 22 February 1988. I was then posted to Ang Mo Kio Fire Station. Five years later, I joined the Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team
(DART) and was eventually posted back to the same fire station in 1998 to lead firefighters as a Deputy Rota Commander. It was not until 2009 when I was posted to CDA and my career as a training instructor began.
From 2010 to 2013, I was briefly attached to UAE to train the USAR instructors from the Abu Dhabi Police USAR Team, equipping them with technical knowledge on instructorship, planning and conducting rescue exercises.
In 2014, UAE requested CDA instructors to assist in grooming their firefighters and rescuers at the ADCDA. I retired that year but was re-employed for another five years. Given the opportunity to serve as a Tactical Advisor to the ADCDA, it was a
tough decision to make but after discussing with my family, I decided to accept the offer.
Rescue 995: What are your roles as a Tactical Advisor in ADCDA? Share with us one type of training your team has conducted at the UAE.
SWO (RET) Selamat: As a Tactical Advisor, I am the Subject Matter Expert on all rescue and firefighting training. I work with the local trainers in ADCDA as a mentor and guide them on the techniques in preparing and conducting specialised
SWO (RET) Selamat (second man standing from the right) conducting training with the trainees at ADCDA
I also assist to develop course curriculums, training materials, new and advanced training technologies to help ADCDA meet the internationally-recognised NFPA’s standard and accreditation. Many of my trainees came from different regions in the
Middle East and they are trained in advanced firefighting and rescue skills and techniques at ADCDA.
SWO (RET) Selamat (man in red) leading his trainees through a vehicle fire training
SWO (RET) Selamat (man on the far left) conducting Mountain Rescue training for the trainees at ADCDA
Mountain Rescue training is one type of the training we conducted as this region is rather mountainous. During a real operation, we had to scale the mountains to rescue hikers or tourists who are lost during their journey. At times, we had to use
helicopters to assist in the fast evacuation of casualties to the nearest hospital. We are always accompanied by a few of our trainees who are also our guides as they are familiar with the mountainous routes.
Trainees from ADCDA at a mountain rescue exercise
Trainees from ADCDA conducting a mountain rescue as part of the training curriculum
Rescue 995: What were some challenges you faced when you assumed your role as a training instructor at ADCDA and how did you overcome them?
SWO (RET) Selamat: Communication and language were the initial barriers upon my arrival in the UAE, especially with my limited Arabic fluency. Many of the local trainers were conversant in English and that made it much easier for me.
I also had to adapt to the way of living as it is culturally different from the way things are done in Singapore. It has been an eye-opening experience for me so far.
Rescue 995: Looking back, what were the proudest moments you had in SCDF both at the fire station or CDA?
SWO (RET) Selamat: I remembered throughout those times during my tour of duty at the fire stations from 1998 to 2009, when I was first a Section Commander, then a Rota Leader and eventually a Sergeant-Major, none of my crew failed their
IPPT! And about two-thirds of them are Full-time National Servicemen (NSFs). That made me very proud of them!
Rescue 995: What about the most memorable incidents that stuck with you till this day?
SWO (RET) Selamat: I remember fighting the Pulau Merlimau fire on 25 October 1988. That was my first encounter with a massive fire in the first year of my firefighting career. Everyone was activated for the operation and called back
to the fire station. Back in those days, resources were limited and we only had ground monitors which were assisted by Airport Emergency Service (AES) Pathfinder fire vehicles. The fire was raging and what made it more dangerous was a nearby LPG
storage tank. There were many lessons learnt from that fire incident and that propelled us forward, further enhancing our oil tank firefighting capabilities along the way.
Rescue 995: What do you miss about Singapore and the times in SCDF?
SWO (RET) Selamat: I miss meeting up with my colleagues, and not forgetting, the IPPT runs where my colleagues and I would motivate one another to achieve the gold medal for ourselves! [laughs] Of course, I miss the food in Singapore
[Left picture] SWO (RET) Selamat (squatting
on the left), was then a Sergeant-Major, with his trainees at CDA in December
2013. [Right picture] SWO (RET) Selamat (third
man standing from the left) with his colleagues after an IPPT run in February
2014. All had achieved the gold award for their IPPT.
 INSARAG (International Search and Rescue Advisory Group) External Classification.
 COSEM: Co-operative of SCDF Employers Ltd.