Woodlands Fire Station blazes a winning trail

Woodlands Fire Station commander Lee Kian Fatt (left), whose station has been named "best" three times, with 42B Rescue Battalion commander Mohammad Tahir, whose NS unit won Best Rescue Battalion.

SINGAPORE - This year's Best Fire Station is also the all-time best, having won the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) award three times.

It has done so through consistency in training and discipline, said the commander of Woodlands Fire Station, Major Lee Kian Fatt.

Woodlands Fire Station will receive the award - for the second year in a row - at Sunday's SCDF Day Parade 2013.

The parade is held in conjunction with the Singapore-Global Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge 2013 at Singapore Expo Hall1, an event open to the public. There, SCDF rescuers will be pitting their skills against officers in fire and rescue teams from other places, including Malaysia, Hong Kong and Australia.

The Best Fire Station award was first presented in 1995 to recognise the station which excelled in operational readiness and administrative work, the latter being an indicator of efficiency.

A panel of SCDF officers assessed the 18 fire stations on criteria such as their state of readiness, the skill level and fitness of their firefighters - judged through fitness and proficiency tests - and their contributions to staff suggestions and projects.

Woodlands first won the award in 2000.

Maj Lee, 38, who has led the station for three years, paid tribute to his "dedicated team" of about 150 fire and medical personnel. "It didn't come easily. The team is committed and disciplined and we train every day," he said.

"Our men are also all-rounders because Woodlands has a mixture of industrial and residential areas, and there's a checkpoint too. We can't be selective in training certain aspects."

Maj Lee highlighted an incident in April this year in which his team displayed quick thinking.

Strong winds had uprooted a tree, which fell on a car travelling along Admiralty Road West, trapping the two occupants inside.

Firefighters spotted two lorry loaders transporting construction cranes and stopped them as they passed by to help lift the fallen tree, so the victims could be freed.

The driver, who was on a lesson, suffered minor injuries, but the passenger - her driving instructor - died.

Another award to be given out on Sunday is the Best Rescue Battalion, a national service (NS) unit. Its role is to conduct rescue operations in major emergencies and work with SCDF personnel.

The 42B Rescue Battalion emerged tops based on criteria such as the NSmen's Individual Physical Proficiency Test results and their performance during mobilisation.

Its commander, Major (NS) Mohammad Tahir, 43, said: "We go through scenarios to make sure the men are operationally ready. We should also thank the family members for their support when the men are mobilised."

About 160 firefighters and paramedics are involved in the Singapore-Global Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge 2013, where SCDF rescue vehicles, such as the Red Rhino, will be on display.

limyihan@sph.com.sg

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