Total Defence: He searched and rescued elderly woman from fire
Total Defence Day is on Monday. The five pillars of Total Defence are Military Defence, Civil Defence, Psychological Defence, Social Defence and Economic Defence. In the second of a five-part series, TNP speaks to a football coach who embodies the civil aspect of Total Defence
She was away at work and her children were in school when a fire broke out in a neighbour's flat at her HDB block in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 2 two years ago.
Ms Jessica Sow's domestic helper and wheelchair-bound mother were the only ones at home and had trouble evacuating.
They live on the 11th storey and the helper couldn't carry the then 76-year-old woman down the stairs. The elderly woman was lying in the corridor with the distressed helper crying helplessly next to her.
Thankfully, Mr Faizaltulamri Noorali, 35, who lives on the 12th storey, spotted them and immediately carried the elderly woman down.
Ms Sow, 44, a consultant, said: "It's been two years but I'm still very appreciative of what he's done. I'm very grateful to have such a good neighbour who so selflessly helped when I was not around."
She said her mother, who previously had a stroke, was visiting from Malaysia. As such, her helper was unfamiliar with taking care of her.
Despite the billowing black smoke, Mr Faizaltulamri, a soccer coach, ran up and down multiple flights of stairs to alert his neighbours to the fire and ensure that they were safe.
He said: "When I was leaving my flat at about 8am, I smelled something like plastic burning. I checked my flat to see if it was coming from there but nothing seemed amiss."
The smell of smoke was very strong so he decided to investigate by checking every storey.
When he reached the eighth storey, he realised the unit next to the lift was on fire.
He ran back up to his home and told his family to evacuate, before going back down to check on the unit that was on fire.
He said: "I knocked loudly on the door but no one was opening it. I went to the next door neighbour's home to look through a window to see if anyone was home, but thankfully it was empty."
Even though he had inhaled some smoke and was feeling a little light-headed, he still thought of the safety of his neighbours.
Mr Faizaltulamri then decided to check on the other flats in the eight storeys above the burning flat.
He noticed a little girl and her helper in their 13th-storey flat. The girl was crying and struggling to catch her breath. After some coaxing, the helper agreed to take the girl, who was suffering from asthma, downstairs.
He also a helped housewife who was home alone on the 14th storey. She was known to have a heart condition and breathing difficulties. As she refused to leave without her cat, he searched her flat and caught the feline.
Mr Faizaltulamri, who was awarded the Public Spiritedness Award by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in 2014, said: "The smoke had travelled up to her flat but I knew I had to get her cat.
"It was hiding and I had a hard time, but a cat is also a life. I didn't want to leave it.
"Till this day, I'm not so sure how my instincts kicked in and how I did it. I guess there was a need for someone to step up to do something and I knew I could do something to help."