The Life of A Fire & Rescue Specialist

March 20, 2021

Wearing the heavy firefighting gears, running into burning buildings, prying damaged cars to rescue trapped victims, and even restarting the heart, SCDF fire and rescue specialists are renowned for their quick and timely response in saving lives and properties.


“As fire and rescue specialists, we are operating on a 24-48 shift. Our shift starts at eight in the morning and ends at eight the next morning. Thereafter, we would rest for 48 hours before our next 24-hour shift. This gives us ample time to recuperate physically and spend time with our loved ones,” said Lieutenant (LTA) Muhammad Bukhary Bin Abu Bakar.


Lieutenant (LTA) Muhammad Bukhary Bin Abu Bakar, father of two and a Rota Commander at Yishun Fire Station, has been a member of The Lifesaving Force for over 12 yearsLieutenant (LTA) Muhammad Bukhary Bin Abu Bakar, father of two and a Rota Commander at Yishun Fire Station, has been a member of The Lifesaving Force for over 12 years.


LTA Bukhary spent six years of his firefighting career in Sengkang Fire Station and another six years as a rescuer with SCDF’s Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART). He was also the recipient of the “Overall Best Cadet” Golden Axe award after graduating from the 21st Rota Commander Course (RCC). Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant a year ago, LTA Bukhary now leads his crew of fire and rescue specialists at Yishun Fire Station.



“Our typical day at work consists of mainly exercises, drills and operational routines,” said LTA Bukhary.


He added, “During our operational routines, we conduct operational surveys where we work closely with building owners to survey their premises and update their premises emergency data. This data is useful for responders during emergencies. We also conduct fire safety enforcement checks on industrial buildings as well as evaluate and audit a company’s Emergency Response Team on its competency in responding to emergencies.”


LTA Bukhary and his crew ensures that every firefighting equipment is in good working condition at the commencement of each shift duty. Next comes the morning drill or training where the crew of fire and rescue specialists refresh their practical knowledge on rescue and firefighting operations. In the afternoon, LTA Bukhary and his crew will be involved in physical training and finally, in the evening, there will be a lecture where they will learn and re-learn theoretical concepts or operational procedures on rescue and firefighting operations.


“From six to seven the next morning, we will don our Chemical Agent suit together with our training canister for the Chemical Agent Acclimatization Drill, in which we train ourselves on simulated scenarios involving chemical agents. These exercises prepare us for any form of potential chemical incidents,” LTA Bukhary explained.


To LTA Bukhary, the toughest part of the shift is at the last two hours, when fire and rescue specialists had to don their firefighting gears and train on various drills and simulated scenarios.

“Although we have a structured routine to abide by, there will be moments when we had to respond to fire incidents and leave the fire station within one minute. Frankly, many of us prefer responding to actual incidents than having drills as it is more exciting and that is when our firefighting skills and knowledge are well utilised,” said LTA Bukhary.


UFM putting out a massive factory fireUFM putting out a massive factory fire


“These days, when responding to fire emergencies, we also leverage on robotics to enhance our firefighting capabilities and to augment the firefighting force. One good example is the Unmanned Firefighting Machine (UFM),” added LTA Bukhary.


The UFM is a purpose-built firefighting appliance that can operate in extreme heat and hazardous environments. It can also operate in the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) tunnel with the rail kit. The UFM has been frequently deployed in large scale firefighting operations and it greatly reduces the risk to firefighters.


LTA Bukhary recalls the moment he was posted to a fire station as a junior officer, he started working very closely with his section mates as well as getting to know their strengths and shortcomings.


“As firefighters, we work as a close-knitted team. Every member in a crew has a critical part to play and we each have our own strengths to get the job done efficiently,” said LTA Bukhary. “Despite the physically demanding aspects of the job, what I love most is the camaraderie that we built with our section mates because we have gone through thick and thin together. Some of the bonds we built remain inseparable even till this day, and to me, this is priceless.”


Buk's Quote


Officers selected for the Rota Commander Course (RCC) are trained at Civil Defence Academy (CDA) for seven months, honing management and leadership skills, as well as knowledge on policies and staff writing.


“Leadership training is the most crucial part of the RCC because as Senior Officers, your decisions are crucial for relate to life and death situations, including the safety of your crew. Your crew will look up to you for directions, so you have to be quick in giving orders especially at the incident site,” said LTA Bukhary.


LTA Bukary receiving the Overall Best Cadet axeLTA Bukhary, then a cadet from the 21st Rota Commander Course, receiving the “Overall Best Cadet” Golden Axe award from Commissioner Eric Yap


As a Rota Commander, LTA Bukhary works hard to inspire his men through his own experiences and leads by example.


“Because I started my career from being a recruit to a Rota Commander, I am able to relate better with my Junior Officers, and I can understand the challenges that they faced. As we progress up the ranks, it is our responsibility as leaders to groom and inspire our juniors with our past experiences. We need to lead by example,” said LTA Bukhary.