Car fires on the rise

If you have not been taking your car to a workshop regularly for checks and maintenance, you may be playing with fire, literally.

The number of vehicles that caught fire has gone up by 20 per cent, from 95 in the first six months of last year to 114 cases in the first half of this year.

The numbers were released by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) yesterday.

More than half of this year's cases involved cars.

Said Assistant Commissioner Anwar Abdullah, the SCDF operations department director: "It is important to have a proper, timely and regular maintenance check on the vehicle at an authorised workshop."

He also warned that drivers should not have any illegal modifications installed on their cars as these could cause fires.

Mr Joey Lim, managing director of Harmony Motor, a vehicle servicing workshop, agreed that regular checks can prevent such mishaps.

"Vehicles get older and would naturally suffer from wear and tear. As Singaporeans are not technically inclined, they go to a workshop only when they notice a problem."

He said that drivers should follow their car manufacturers' maintenance guidelines.


Seeing a more gradual rise over the years is the number of calls to the SCDF by the elderly.

Colonel (Dr) Ng Yih Yng, the chief medical officer of the SCDF medical department, said this could be due to our ageing population.

"The elderly account for about 10 per cent of Singapore's population and calls made by them to the SCDF have been increasing over the last four to five years," he said.

Last year, 36.2 per cent of calls to the SCDF were from the elderly.

Mr David Kan, the founder and programme director of Family Life First, a voluntary welfare organisation, suggested that the increase may be due to emotional stress when someone reaches a certain age.

"The elderly may feel a lack of adequate human interaction and connection in old age and they may be inclined to pick up the phone and look for a listening ear to cope with it," he said.

The number of false alarms this year also rose, by 9 per cent.

Said Col (Dr) Ng: "False alarms may occur when people panic when they see someone unwell and immediately call for an ambulance.

"They may later find out that the people whom they had called in for may actually be okay."

But he warned against making prank calls because these do not only drain the SCDF's ambulance resources, they can also deprive those who may be in genuine need of emergency assistance.

"Prank calling could potentially take away an ambulance from someone who actually needs help," he said.

This article was first published on August 21, 2014.
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Service for hearing- and speech-impaired

People who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have trouble speaking can now call the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) for assistance using the Emergency SMS.

There are about 1,300 users registered with SCDF's partner organisations who can use the service.

They can send an SMS to SCDF in an emergency using a mobile phone.

Others using the service would receive an automated SMS telling them to call 995.

Ms Tina Hung, the deputy chief executive officer of National Council of Social Service (NCSS), said: "The new SMS helpline is an easy-to-use and convenient communication channel for deaf people and people who have speech impairment to reach SCDF in times of emergency."


Non-registered DHS (Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, Speech Impairment) users should register with the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf), Touch Community Services (Silent Club) or SG Enable, an agency that provides services for disabled people.

When sending an emergency message to SCDF, DHS users should state:

1) The service required (fire engine or ambulance)

2) Address/ Incident Location (descriptions and inclusion of landmarks are encouraged)

3) Nature of emergency (e.g. fire/someone experiencing chest pains)

Messages should be sent to 70995.

The SCDF worked with the NCSS, SADeaf, Touch Community Services (Silent Club), Canossian School (for the hearing-impaired), Lighthouse School (for the hearing- and visually-impaired, and autistic children) and SG Enable to come up with the service.

People who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have a speech impairment can SMS 70995 in case of emergency