A Day in the Life of a Volunteer Fire and Rescue Specialist

October 15, 2019

04a A Day in a Life of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Specialist

Volunteer Fire and Rescue Specialist (FRS), LTA (V) Lin Jiawei, 27, together with his colleagues from the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU), fought the massive Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) facility fire at Jalan Buroh on the Friday evening of 21 June 2019.

As he approached the scorching heat and thick smoke that blurred his vision momentarily, Jiawei recalled hearing the loud sound of explosions and the sight of flying LPG canisters.

“To be honest, I was afraid of the scale of fire and the danger it posed,” said Jiawei. “However, it was my duty as a trained FRS to put out the fire, I had to put aside my fear no matter what and confront the inferno.”

After the fire was extinguished, Jiawei along with the firefighters in his team stayed overnight to conduct ‘damping down’ operations [1] and monitor the burnt site to ensure that the fire would not rekindle.

04c A Day in a Life of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Specialist

The fire at Jalan Buroh had spread rapidly across the facility about the size of two football fields.


04d A Day in a Life of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Specialist

Clouds of thick black smoke cleared as the massive fire was gradually extinguished.


“We ended our operations the next day at about 8am. It was exhausting but very satisfying at the same time,” said Jiawei. “To me, it was a life experience that I can never find outside of CDAU. Also, when I was involved in such an incident where I did my best and it turned out well, I feel proud of myself.”

Jiawei was one of several volunteer FRSs who had the chance to be involved in this fire at Jalan Buroh, the biggest LPG fire in Singapore!

Behind the heroic acts of firefighting and rescue, Rescue 995 takes a closer look at how a regular day at the fire station is like for Jiawei.


04b A Day in a Life of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Specialist

LTA (V) Lin Jiawei uses his down time at the fire station to revise his lecture notes before an activation call gets him busy again.


“I usually report for my CDAU duty on Saturdays. For that, I have to wake up at 6am and be at Clementi Fire Station before 8am.” said Jiawei, a full-time Material Science and Engineering undergraduate student at the National University of Singapore.

The fire station is open on Saturday mornings for members of the public to have a tour around the station’s premises, and to get to know the fire station crews better. Whenever there are visitors, Jiawei and his colleagues would take them around the station to view the firefighting and support vehicles, and also, they would share with them their firefighting and lifesaving experiences.

“What I like about such morning visits is that I have the chance to mingle with the children, who come with their parents, some of them are tourists. Children somehow are always captivated by fire engines and firemen,” said Jiawei.

After the morning fire station visit, Jiawei would be tasked with a few routines before lunch at mid-day and some physical training sessions in the afternoon.

“On some days, we will have Chemical Agent Suit Endurance exercises at the station’s drill yard where we will don our chemical agent suits to do physical training to acclimatize ourselves,” said Jiawei. “This is part of the training that enables us to be physically and mentally prepared for emergencies involving hazardous materials.”

Besides physical training and sports in the afternoon, there will be an opportunity for Jiawei to be involved in conducting Operation Surveys. One such activity requires him to do random checks on fire hydrants to ascertain that they are functioning well.

After dinner, Jiawei would attend the evening lectures to learn first-aid and lifesaving skills as well as knowledge on fire hazards and firefighting techniques.

“The activities are usually different every week depending on the scheduled curriculum,” said Jiawei. “And if there is no major incident to respond to on that day, we will never fail to make productive use of our time such as in physical training in the gym or cleaning and maintaining our equipment to ensure that they are in top notch state of operational readiness.”


[1] ‘Damping Down’ operations, a term used by SCDF to describe the application of water to wet burnt surfaces immediately after the fire is put out, were ongoing.