Off-duty officer fights blaze with just flash hood and one hose
SCDF man saw orange glow and black smoke from nearby block; fire believed to be caused by charging PAB
He had just started his pre-dawn meal at home when an orange glow and black smoke from the opposite block caught his attention.
Without hesitation, Warrant Officer Nasiruddin Ghaffor, 33, sprung into action, fighting a blaze that had engulfed a HDB unit.
The fire, which happened at around 4.50am on the seventh level of Block 502A, Yishun Street 51, caused about 80 residents to evacuate.
Speaking to The New Paper hours after he battled the flames yesterday, WO Nasiruddin said: "I saw this big orange glow and black smoke from a unit in the opposite block and immediately knew it was a huge fire."
Grabbing his emergency ready bag he had prepared at home, the off-duty officer, who is an instructor at the Civil Defence Academy, dashed to the unit with only a fire-resistant hood over his head as protection.
Seeing the front door open, he began to fight the fire using a hose reel that was close by.
"The fire was really huge - it had engulfed almost the whole living room," he said.
"I inched my way in slowly to control the fire from spreading to the other parts of the unit. After a while, I managed to extinguish the fire."
But even as the unit lay smouldering, WO Nasiruddin, who has been a fire and rescue specialist for nine years, knew his work was not done.
He handed the hose reel to other members of the public who had stepped forward to help and entered the smoky home to check if anyone was trapped inside.
He found no one in the unit and by that time, he was glad to see his colleagues, who had arrived and taken control of the scene.
Not one to shun duty, WO Nasiruddin soldiered on and went to work.
He found out later that three people from the unit were later assessed by paramedics and taken to Singapore General Hospital for smoke inhalation.
KNOCKED ON DOORS
According to Chinese daily Shin Min Daily News, the three had gone around knocking on neighbours' doors when the fire broke out to warn them and managed to escape before WO Nasiruddin arrived.
The trio - a couple and a sister of one of them - are believed to be involved in food delivery as delivery bags were seen outside the unit.
A spokesman for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said preliminary investigations indicated the fire was of electrical origin and started from the battery of a power-assisted bicycle (PAB) that was charging in the unit at the time.
Fires involving PABs fell from 22 cases in 2018 to 13 last year.
Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah posted on Facebook yesterday and she wished the three residents a speedy recovery, and reminded the public to observe safety guidelines when charging their PABs.
She also praised WO Nasiruddin and the others who stepped forward to help for their community spirit.
She said: "Many also went around waking up neighbours... Thanks also to SCDF officers and police."
The SCDF has been unable to identify the people who stepped forward to help. They are encouraged to reach out to the SCDF on 1800-286-5555 so that they can be recognised.
WO Nasiruddin said it was natural for him to step up.
"All I had was two spoonfuls of rice before I responded to the fire," he told TNP yesterday afternoon.
"Frankly, I am quite hungry now but I will persevere."