She was in the midst of buying gold jewellery at a shop at Jurong Point Shopping Centre yesterday when the fire alarm went off.
"I was surprised," said the 45-year-old, who only wished to be known as Madam Ho.
Within minutes, she and other shoppers were ushered out of the mall by management staff.
"It was very crowded, but the fire wardens were directing me to the evacuation routes."
Madam Ho soon found out that she was part of Singapore's first Mass Fire Evacuation Drill (MFED) conducted during business hours.
The National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council (NFEC) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) launched the annual MFED yesterday at 3pm at Jurong Point Shopping Centre.
About 220 tenants and more than 2,000 people took part.
The drill mimicked a "real-life" scenario - a case of arson at Pizza Hut on level one.
The first fire alarm was triggered at 3pm and security personnel were deployed to check the restaurant.
The second alarm was sounded two minutes later and staff from the mall's management were mobilised to help evacuate tenants and shoppers.
Mr James Lee, 43, a senior security officer, was one of the two Company Emergency Response Team (Cert) firefighters activated.
"In such circumstances...every second counts," Mr Lee said. He had attended a three-day training course by the SCDF.
The Cert is a team of in-house first responders trained in preventing any emergency.
SCDF deployed 13 personnel, one fire engine and two Red Rhinos.
With security footage and additional tip-offs from tenants, police deduced that the "arsonist" was hiding in another shop on level one.
The "suspect" was arrested at 3:25pm and mall operations resumed at 4pm.
The MFED aims to promote emergency evacuation awareness for both tenants and the public, said Mr Alan Loh, chairman of the NFEC.
"Our goal is to enhance the mall's safety protocols by doing a practical, real-life situation drill," he said.
This year, 110 premises and 16,000 participants will be involved in the month-long MFED.
This article was first published on Sep 4, 2014.
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