New fire station in Tuas has special equipment to deal with industrial fires

When a fire breaks out in Tuas View, it might involve radioactive material.

That's why firefighters at the new Tuas View Fire Station will have firefighting suits that you can't find at most other fire stations.

This includes one with a 15kg lead lining to protect the wearer from radiation.

The station at the south-western tip of Singapore officially opened yesterday.

The area is a fast-growing industrial hub and is home to several ongoing developments in the biomedical and shipyard industries.

Thirteen global biomedical players are based at the 312ha Tuas Biomedical Park, including Pfizer Asia Pacific and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals. Tuas View will also be home to the Tuas Mega Port.

And because it's an industrial area, the types of fire it would have to tackle would differ from those in residential estates.


So there are different kinds of hazardous material (HazMat) suits for different mission types.

When combined with the breathing apparatus, a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responder would be carrying an impressive load of 27.5kg.

First Warrant Officer (1WO) Mohd Sharif, 33, the deputy rota (shift) commander of Rota 2 at Tuas View Fire Station, said: "Each suit has a different purpose.

"The Demron radiation-shielding suit, for example, will protect against radioactive threats. It also allows for more accessories to be carried on the mission, such as auto injectors. It really depends on the threat."

The station is also equipped with a HazMat-mitigation vehicle, which allows responders to counter incidents that involve toxic industrial chemicals.

1WO Sharif explained: "This vehicle has all the equipment needed to mitigate chemical accidents. It has equipment for detection, casualty extraction and HazMat suits for our responders."

It carries a smaller vehicle known as a utility buggy, which can be used to transport load during a disaster.

Other gadgets in the vehicle include thermal imagers, polytectors (handheld gas detectors), transfer pumps (to siphon chemicals) and decontaminants.

Toxic airborne gases are a risk in industrial accidents.

For this reason, each HazMat vehicle comes with a weather bag (to detect wind direction) and five polytectors strategically placed around the incident site for early detection.

Before the station was built, emergency responders took more than eight minutes to arrive at emergencies there.

Now, SCDF responders can arrive within five to eight minutes.

At the opening ceremony, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office S Iswaran said the new fire station would improve the SCDF's response capability and that HazMat mitigation capacity is crucial in tackling pharmaceutical accidents.

Number of fires at industrial premises last year, down from 145 in 2012 and 176 in 2011.


JAN 13, 2004

An explosion, followed by a fire, occurred at a second-storey office unit at Toa Payoh Industrial Park in Lorong 8 killing four people.

At least one liquefied petroleum gas cylinder was found at the scene, together with containers of solvents and paints.

MAY 3, 2007

Two industrial fires occurred - the first at the ExxonMobil Singapore oil refinery on Jurong Island and the second at a Jurong oil and chemical plant. The first blaze claimed two lives while another two were injured.

The second fire resulted in one man suffering 70 per cent burns.

SEPT 28, 2011

A fire at Shell's refinery facility on Pulau Bukom raged for 32 hours.

The fire was caused by maintenance works on a pipeline connected to a tank of naphtha, a volatile chemical liquid.

More than 100 firefighters were involved. No deaths were reported

This article was first published on July 25, 2014.
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