Latest fire sparks more calls for ban on non-certified PMDs
Neighbours and MP concerned as two adults and a child are taken to hospital after blaze in Yew Tee flat
A day after several MPs made calls in Parliament for a ban on non-certified personal mobility devices (PMDs), an e-scooter burst into flames in a Yew Tee flat.
The fire almost trapped a family living in the third-storey unit in Block 688A Choa Chu Kang Drive at 11.35am yesterday.
A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesman said firefighters put out the fire in the living room using a compressed air foam backpack.
Two adults and a child were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.
Preliminary investigations found that the fire started from the PMD, which was being charged at the time, the spokesman said.
Mr Yusree Rosli, 35, who owns the five-room flat, told The New Paper he was at home with his wife, two sons aged two and three, his mother-in-law and brother-in-law.
The food and beverage supervisor said: "My mother-in-law was the first one to see the fire and used a bucket of water to try to put it out.
"It made it worse and the grey smoke turned thick and black."
Mr Yusree and the others then hid in one of the bedrooms as the fire was near the main door in the living room.
After calling the SCDF and police, he realised they would be trapped if the fire were to spread, so they decided to run for it through the smoke and past the flames to get out of the flat.
He said the e-scooter belonged to his brother-in-law, who used it for food deliveries, and they have removed the battery pack from another e-scooter as a precaution.
Residents in the block said they were extremely worried about PMD fires and wanted the authorities to take immediate action to protect them.
Mr S. Rajalingam, 82, a retiree living on the fifth storey, said his wheelchair-bound wife and their maid were told to evacuate but could not do so as the lifts had been disabled.
"I don't know what would have happened if the fire had spread," said Mr Rajalingam, who was not home at the time.
"The authorities should ensure such incidents do not keep happening, especially since there are so many PMDs that may be defective.
"If there's another PMD fire, others might not be so lucky."
Calling PMDs a nuisance, Madam Janice Goh, 51, a nanny living on the third storey, said: "I've lived here for 17 years and there had never been a fire until now.
"I often have children in my home, and PMD fires put all of us at risk. Why can't we just ban them?"
About 81,000 non-compliant PMDs are still in use, and there have been at least 50 PMD-related fires so far this year. Just last month, a 41-year-old man died after his flat in Bukit Batok was gutted in a fire believed to have started from a charging PMD.
On Monday, 14 MPs sought clarifications and made suggestions in Parliament on how the Government should be tackling the menace of PMDs.
The MPs wanted to know why the deadline for UL2272 certification could not be brought forward even earlier.
Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min replied that the July 2020 date is reasonable as this would allow retailers to stock up on certified devices for a smoother replacement process.
Among the MPs calling for an immediate ban on non-certified PMDs was Mr Alex Yam.
He told TNP that after finding out about yesterday's fire in his ward in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, he immediately spoke to Dr Lam on the need for an urgent reconsideration of the Land Transport Authority's position on PMDs.
"I do not fathom why we can't institute an immediate ban on non-compliant PMDs, especially since a death was attributed to it in Bukit Batok," he said.
"While not everyone is egregious, we can never know nor predict when it may happen again."
He understands that two victims of a PMD-related fire earlier this year are still hospitalised.
"Without an immediate ban... we will continue to have issues because of improper charging and usage," he said.
"Till then, I urge everyone to remain calm. Riders should exercise care when charging their non-compliant PMDs, and we should all keep a lookout for each other in the community."