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A final salute: SCDF pays tribute to fallen firefighter Kenneth Tay in observance ceremony

A final salute: SCDF pays tribute to fallen firefighter Kenneth Tay in observance ceremony
SCDF officers observes a minute of silence during the last call for the late Captain Kenneth Tay Xue Qin at the SCDF headquarters, on May 20, 2024.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE — Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) regular officer Captain Kenneth Tay, 30, who died while fighting a ship fire on May 16, was honoured at an observance ceremony on May 20.

Paying tribute to him at the ceremony at SCDF's Ubi headquarters, SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap said in his speech that CPT Tay will be remembered for his selflessness, professionalism and commitment.

He said: "This last fire call for Captain Kenneth remembers his dedication to duty from his years of service with the SCDF.

"In our one minute of silence, we honour his memory and give our highest respect to our fallen comrade."

CPT Tay had joined the SCDF in December 2017.

About 200 SCDF personnel gathered at SCDF's headquarters to observe the minute's silence.

It was originally planned to be held at the parade square, but was moved to the auditorium due to the rain.

The ceremony was also observed at other SCDF units across the island.

At around 7.10am, an alarm rang across all 23 SCDF fire stations, the SCDF headquarters in Ubi, the headquarters of all five divisions, and the Civil Defence Academy.

On May 16, CPT Tay was serving as a marine rota commander at the West Coast Marine Fire Station when he lost consciousness while fighting a blaze on board China-flagged tanker Sheng Hang Hua 6.

The marine vessel was anchored at Raffles Reserved Anchorage in the south-west of Singapore.

CPT Tay was pronounced dead at the National University Hospital that day.

SCDF noted that between 2018 and 2023, he had aced many proficiency and certification tests that firefighting officers have to take. He was also a para counsellor and career advocate in the SCDF.

Commissioner Yap said: "This speaks volumes of his belief, passion, conviction and ambition of the life-saving force."

He added the public depends on the SCDF and its officers like CPT Tay to help them in emergencies which can be a matter of life and death.

CPT Tay had studied nursing at the National University of Singapore (NUS) after graduating from Catholic Junior College (CJC) in 2011.

His professor at NUS told ST on May 17 that CPT Tay had found his calling as a firefighter after graduating.

CJC had said in a Facebook post on May 18 that CPT Tay will be remembered for his highly positive attitude towards learning, and for relating to his peers and teachers with kindness, sincerity and respect.

At the end of the ceremony, Commissioner Yap made his way to the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery at Bright Hill where CPT Tay's ceremonial funeral is being held.

This is the second time a firefighter has died in the line of duty.

On Dec 8, 2022, full-time national serviceman (NSF) Edward H. Go died after battling a blaze in a rental flat in Henderson Road.

The 19-year-old (NSF) was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant (1).

ALSO READ: SCDF officer who died battling blaze on marine vessel aced many firefighting tests

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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