10 September 2014

Fire Safety Asia Conference Opening Ceremony at the Singapore Expo – Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs

Mr Alan Loh, Chairman, National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council
Commissioner Eric Yap, Singapore Civil Defence Force,
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

A very good morning.

2.           I am delighted to join you today at the Fire Safety Asia Conference 2014.

3.            Let me first extend a warm welcome to our overseas guests who have joined us for this conference. Welcome to Singapore.

4.           Fire safety practitioners, building professionals and regulators come together once every three years to share their insights, experience and expertise that will go a long way to build safer cities for the future. It is a noble effort that will eventually help save lives and I am happy to note that the participation for FiSAC has doubled since it was first held in 2011.


5.           The theme for this year’s conference is “Fire safety and emergency management: The way forward”. These are two distinct but complementary disciplines which our two keynote speakers, Assistant Commissioner Danielle Cotton from the London Fire Brigade and Mr Jim Pauley, President and CEO of the United States National Fire Protection Association, will elaborate later.

6.            Fire safety and emergency management are critical for a compact and densely populated country like Singapore. Our landscape is made up of a rich mix of commercial, industrial and residential premises. 90 percent of our population live in high-rise apartments and many more work in high-rise buildings. We have also begun to explore the use of subterranean spaces to maximise the use of our limited land resources, with our first 15-hectare underground commercial storage for oil products, known as the Jurong Rock Caverns, launched just last week.

7.             These architectural ingenuities also pose new fire safety challenges for us. In Singapore, our strict enforcement of the fire code, also entail that we work closely with urban planners, architects, developers and other industrial experts to incorporate fire safety elements into early stages of our architectural and landscape designs.

8.               For instance, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) adopts a performance-based fire safety approach which combines fire safety engineering principles with computer modelling tools to design fire safety measures that meet specific fire safety intents. Recently, this approach led to the formulation of fire safety requirements for the specific use of Cross Laminated Timber in the building construction industry which will come into effect later this year.

9.             Just as fire safety measures help to minimise the risk of fire and loss of lives, it is equally important that we invest in the development of a robust emergency management and response strategy and framework. SCDF invests in technology, innovation and training to ensure that they have the means and capabilities to deal with these evolving risks if they occur. Some notable examples include equipping its fire-fighting vehicles with the latest compressed air foam fire suppression system and utilising unmanned fire-fighting machines in their frontline operations.

10.           In 2015, SCDF will also have a new training ground at the Home Team Tactical Training Centre where they can train alongside their counterparts in the Singapore Police Force in mitigating incidents and crises.  The new training centre will be equipped with state-of-the-art training simulators that will stress test our SCDF commanders, fire-fighters and rescuers for different realistic scenarios. 


11.           Fire safety and emergency management cannot be effective if there are no support from our stakeholders and the general public. This event is organised jointly by SCDF and our National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council, the latter made up of dedicated members from both the public and private sectors who have a stake in helping to promote fire prevention and civil emergency preparedness to make Singapore safe and secure. We also have the National Civil Defence Cadet Corp and the Civil Defence LionHearters Clubs where youths from secondary schools and tertiary institutions help us reach out to their peers on fire safety knowledge and even participate in our humanitarian missions.

12.           Later this evening, the Fire Safety Design Excellence Awards will be presented to buildings with exceptional fire safety design features. I congratulate all winners and thank you for your efforts in doing your part to promoting fire safety. I am sure that these awards will not only set a new benchmark in building design, but also spur the industry to continue raising the bar in fire safety and building design.


13.            In honour of our guests and participants, SCDF has dovetailed several major events to run in parallel to the FiSAC, and termed this week as the SCDF Ready Week. They comprise the annual conference of the International Fire Chiefs’ Association of Asia, the annual SCDF Day Parade and the signature and highly popular Singapore-Global Firefighters & Paramedics Challenge. 

14.           Running in tandem with the SCDF Ready Week is the Fire & Disaster Asia exhibition which will showcase a wide array of new and advanced fire safety solutions for buildings.


15.            In closing, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council and the Singapore Civil Defence Force for the hard work and effort to organise FiSAC.

16.             I would also like to thank our speakers, guests and participants for taking time to attend this conference and share your own insights and experiences with us. I hope that you will not only find the conference a meaningful and memorable engagement platform, but also an opportunity to forge new partnerships and collaborations.

17.              Thank you.