New fire checklist for security guards

New fire checklist for security guards

SECURITY guards are forbidden from using passenger lifts during a fire, a point which experts hope to drum into workers after an incident in January where two guards rode a lift to their deaths.

To keep themselves and those in the building safe, security guards now have a seven-part checklist that they have to follow every time a fire alarm sounds.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which laid out the standard operating procedures at a security industry conference last week, said that while the guidelines have always been part of a security guard's training, they have now been highlighted in the list for greater emphasis.

The move follows the only confirmed fire-related deaths here in the first half of this year, at Marina Bay Suites on Jan 13. Someone had hit a bypass switch while the fire was still raging, deactivating the lifts' emergency mode - where the cabins return to and remain on the ground floor.

Thinking it was a false alarm, security guards Sim Lai Huat, 55, and Sooria Kala Kaneseon, 33, took a lift up to a 65th-floor penthouse to investigate.

They were killed by the heat and smoke when the lift doors opened and would not close as the sensors misread the thick smoke as an obstruction.

Their deaths could have been prevented and should serve as a wake-up call for the private security industry, the State Coroner said last month.

Rather than taking the lift, they should have notified the authorities and residents, and waited for help to arrive.

Doing the wrong thing during a fire can hinder efforts by professionals to put it out, stressed Major Azmi Adam, assistant director of the SCDF's Central Enforcement Department.

For instance, reactivating lifts will allow them to act as pistons, pumping smoke into the lift shafts and the rest of the building, he said. "When SCDF officers arrive, they will have a hard time. It delays our operations."

All security guards here have to be licensed and pass Workforce Development Agency tests.

Their training, which takes five days, requires them to pass two modules, which cover how to handle fire-related incidents.

Security agencies said the new checklist will help prevent lapses but added that there is no substitute for vigilance. Security Association (Singapore) president T. Mogan said: "Security officers should treat every incident like a real fire and be alert every time the fire alarm is activated."

This article was first published on September 6, 2014.
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