Scaling Greater Heights for the Rescue

June 15, 2021

Given Singapore’s high-rise terrain, there is a need for a more advanced vehicle which can be deployed for high-rise fire and rescue operations. Unveiled in SCDF’s Workplan Seminar 2019, the Combined Platform Ladder 60m (CPL60) is the latest variation of CPL that can reach a maximum height of 60 metres, or the equivalent of a 20-storey building.


The CPL60 incorporates technological advancements as part of SCDF’s drive to increase operational efficiency through technology. It is equipped with a water monitor capable of discharging water at a rate of 3,800 litres per minute and a rescue cage that can hold a weight up to 500 kilograms.


With the addition of the CPL60 to SCDF’s existing fleet of Combined Platform Ladder 34m (CPL34) and Aerial Ladder 56m (AL56), they provide The Life Saving Force with a range of tactical options in the deployment of high-rise fire and rescue operations.


The Combined Platform Ladder 60m (CPL60).The Combined Platform Ladder 60m (CPL60).

An aerial view from the highest point of the CPL60.An aerial view from the highest point of the CPL60.

LTA Mohammed Salih Shaik Dawood with the CPL60.LTA Mohammed Salih Shaik Dawood with the CPL60.


Meet LTA Mohamed Salih Shaik Dawood, a Deputy Rota Commander of the Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART), who has been with the Force for 24 years. LTA Shaik Dawood, then a second Warrant Officer (WO2), and his team were alerted to a HDB fire at Bukit Batok in 2019.


“It was a raging fire! The window panes were shattering due to the intense heat. Our first priority was to get into the house and rescue the casualties immediately,” recalled LTA Shaik Dawood. In a flash, hoses were laid and firefighters broke into the heavily smoke-logged unit armed with water jets.


“We saw the first casualty leaning unconscious against the wall outside the kitchen toilet. It was an elderly woman and we immediately rescued her out of the burning unit. We also noticed two male casualties, a father and his son, standing precariously on the window ledge of the kitchen,” said LTA Shaik Dawood. “Due to the heat and fatigue, both of them could not climb back into the unit even though we tried to assist. The only way was to rescue them from the outside. And that was when the CPL60 was utilised.”


While waiting for the deployment of the CPL60, LTA Shaik Dawood rushed to the ground level and strapped on a safety harness to prepare for the height rescue. LTA Shaik Dawood also ensured that there was ample deployment space for the CPL60.


“I was worried for the two trapped casualties. I waved at them and shouted ‘Wait out! We will rescue you very soon! Hold tight!’ and my heart was pounding so fast at that time!” recalled LTA Shaik Dawood. “And when the CPL60 was deployed, I immediately grabbed a large bottle of mineral water and two blankets for the casualties and boarded the rescue cage.”


The two casualties were brought down safely from the high-rise building and were handed over to the ambulance crew for medical attention.


“It was a very intense experience for me. I was grateful for the swift decision and effective coordination that made the high-rise fire and rescue operation a successful one,” remarked LTA Shaik Dawood.




Besides the CPL60, SCDF also has CPL34 which evolved from its earlier counterparts, CPL32 and AL56.


CPL32 with its outriggers in deployment.CPL32 with its outriggers in deployment.


The CPL32 was the primary aerial firefighting vehicle in SCDF for many years before it was replaced by CPL34 in 2012. It had a firefighting cage mounted on the telescopic ladder and a control centre located at the base of its turntable.


The Combined Platform Ladder 34m (CPL34) in deployment.The Combined Platform Ladder 34m (CPL34) in deployment.


The CPL34 is an upgraded version of CPL32. It has a display panel that shows the outreach diagram and position of the vehicle during deployment, thus increasing the situational awareness of the operator. It also has a full electronic control system for the deployment of the outriggers. These outriggers are required to stabilize the vehicle during a height rescue operation.


Similar to the CPL60, CPL34 possesses a water monitor capable of discharging water at the rate of 3,800 litres per minute. In addition, it has a rescue cage platform that can hold a maximum load of 500 kilograms and can extend to a maximum height of 34 metres, the equivalent of 11-storey.


The Aerial Ladder 56m (AL56)The Aerial Ladder 56m (AL56)


The AL56 can extend its ladder to a maximum of 56 metres and is used primarily for aerial rescue operation. It is equipped with a sky lift, rescue cage, and stretcher support for quick and safe aerial evacuation of casualties.