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

SCDF officer who died battling blaze on marine vessel aced many firefighting tests
CPT Kenneth Tay aced many firefighting tests prior to his death.
PHOTO: Facebook/Kenneth Tay

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer who died after fighting a fire on board a marine vessel in the southwest had a stellar track record, according to a second press statement released by the SCDF on Thursday (May 16) night.

The firefighter, identified as Captain Kenneth Tay Xue Qin, was from the West Coast Marine Fire Station, which was alerted to the fire in the early hours of Thursday.

The 30-year-old, a Rota Commander, was found lying at the bottom of a staircase on the vessel and pronounced dead at the hospital.

Tay joined the SCDF as a regular officer and started 28 weeks of training in the Rota Commander Course in December 2017.

During the course, Tay achieved outstanding results, acing his Individual Physical Proficiency Test and Breathing Apparatus Proficiency Test. 

After completing the course eight months later, he was posted to Changi Fire Station as a Rota Commander, where he stayed until November 2020.

He was then posted to the 1st SCDF Division as a public education officer, where he "expressed a strong interest" in marine firefighting, the statement said.

In May 2022, Tay completed the five-week Marine Firefighting Specialist Course (MFFSC), where he also performed impressively.

He was posted to West Coast Marine Fire Station as a Marine Rota Commander in January 2023.

Conscious when found

In their second statement, SCDF also provided more details of what happened to Tay on the day of the ship fire.

He had boarded the vessel with another firefighter, but separated from him in the engine room in order to check for other hot spots with a thermal imager.

According to body camera footage, Tay encountered difficulties around 3.53am and stopped responding to calls, prompting a search by the other firefighter.

At 4am, another team spotted him about 4m from the engine room, collapsed at the bottom of a staircase.

Although he was conscious, he appeared unwell and was taken to the open deck, where he subsequently lost consciousness.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was conducted on him on the deck and when he was evacuated via an SCDF fast response marine vessel to Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal.

An ambulance took him to the National University Hospital. When they arrived at 5.50am, Tay was pronounced dead.

Deeply saddened: SCDF

SCDF said in its statement: "SCDF officers, like Tay, put their lives on the line each time they enter the scene of a fire, in order to save others."

All 19 crew members of the vessel were safely accounted for, the statement added.

"SCDF is deeply saddened by the death of our colleague Tay. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and are providing them with our fullest support."

SCDF will also be holding a ceremonial funeral for Tay with the agreement of his family.

In a Facebook post, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said Tay's death is "very, very saddening", adding that the the ministry will assist his family during this difficult time. 

Second firefighter to die 

Tay is the second firefighter to die in the line of duty.

In December 2022, Edward Go, a 19-year-old full-time national serviceman, suffocated and died after battling a fire in a rental flat at Henderson Road.

His air cylinder was depleted and his superior allegedly left him alone in the unit to fight the fire without informing anyone else.

ALSO READ: 'His body had always been very strong': Former army officer dies after collapsing at work

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