13 September 2014
SCDF day Parade and Singapore-Global Fire Fighters and Paramedics Challenge (SGFPC) at the Singapore Expo, Hall 1 – Speech by Mr s Iswaran, Minister, Prime Minister’s office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry
Commissioner Eric Yap,
International friends from various fire and emergency authorities,
Partners, Grassroots leaders, SCDF officers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to be here today to celebrate the SCDF Day Parade. This is an important occasion for our SCDF officers to come together to reaffirm their pledge and commitment to the Force and its life saving mission. We are also joined today by our valued partners and volunteers, such as members from the National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council, who have also committed themselves to this noble calling.
2. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to our overseas guests, international participants and friends. While we are from different countries, we are dedicated to a common mission of protecting and saving lives, which transcends national boundaries.
Progress of SCDF
3. As we celebrate SCDF Day, I am glad to note how the Force has evolved over the years, and enhanced its capabilities in tandem with the needs of our dynamic environment. Today, the SCDF has the capacity to respond effectively to a wide spectrum of disasters and civil emergencies, both locally and internationally.
4. It is also gratifying that the confidence and trust that the community has in the SCDF have also grown significantly. Based on a recent public perception survey conducted in December last year, 98% of respondents indicated confidence in SCDF’s ability to respond to, address and deal with emergencies – the highest since the first Public Perception Survey in year 1998. It is a tribute to the dedication and professionalism of our SCDF officers. These significant strides of the SCDF can be attributed to three key factors: People, Innovation and Partnerships.
People – Our Pioneers, Our Foundation
5. Firstly, our people. One group that has made an invaluable contribution to development of Civil Defence in Singapore is our SCDF Pioneers. Our SCDF Pioneers helped to establish the Force and built it from its humble beginning to its highly professional stature today. Many of these veteran men and women had courageously fought major fires such as the Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1961 and the Robinsons’ fire in 1972. They overcame unprecedented challenges in major search and rescue operations such as the Hotel New World Collapse in 1986. Others played a pivotal role in the development of Singapore’s Fire Code.
6. The SCDF of today rests on the foundations laid by these pioneer officers. I am delighted that some of these SCDF pioneers have been able to join us today. We are honoured by your presence and, on behalf of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the SCDF, I would like to express our deep appreciation to all of you SCDF pioneers for your years of dedication and courage in building up The Life Saving Force. Thank you!
7. To mark Singapore’s Golden Jubilee celebration or SG50 next year, the Home Team will be organising a series of activities to honour and thank all our Home Team Pioneers. The SCDF produced a 72-page bumper edition of its in-house Rescue 995 magazine last month. Entitled “Down Memory Lane”, it is a special tribute to our SCDF pioneers and includes interviews with SCDF veterans.
People – Our Officers, Our Most Valuable Asset
8. Our officers are the heart and soul of the SCDF. You must uphold the core values of the Force, build on the legacy and cherished traditions inherited from our pioneers, and navigate the challenges of a fast-paced and ever-changing operational landscape.
People – SCDF NS personnel, Our Strength
9. Our National Service personnel are an integral part of the SCDF. They brave the frontlines with our regulars and are an asset to the organisation. The SCDF continues to invest in developing and training our national servicemen. In this regard, I congratulate the SCDF on its recent accreditation by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency as an approved training organisation for the Workforce Skills Qualifications. This provides SCDF Full-time NSmen with industry-recognised certifications in contingency planning, leadership and medical skills, to better prepare them for the transition from NS to the workforce. 2,000 SCDF Full-time NSmen and Operationally Ready NSmen are expected to benefit from this annually.
Innovation – A Key Enabler that helps SCDF stay ahead
10. The second enabler is innovation which has been a key driving factor in propelling SCDF’s progress over the years. One good example of SCDF’s innovative spirit is the Light Fire Attack Vehicle, known more commonly as the Red Rhino, which has won several innovation awards. Since its inception in the year 2000, the Red Rhino has evolved both in design and capability. The fourth generation Light Fire Attack Vehicle or LF4G is the first compact urban fire-fighting vehicle to be fully integrated with a Compressed Air Foam system to enhance its effectiveness in mitigating fires. It is also noteworthy that the very first generation of Red Rhino to the latest LF4G have all been manufactured in Singapore.
11. In commemoration of SG50, the LF4G prominently features the ‘Home Team celebrates SG50’ logo and I look forward to the unveiling of the LF4G later.
12. Another example of how the SCDF has successfully leveraged technology to enhance its productivity and operational efficiency is the Unmanned Fire-fighting Machine or UFM. The UFM is able to manoeuvre in very close proximity to a raging fire. In addition, it relieves heavy manpower commitment in major operations yet produces a far superior firefighting capability to quickly extinguish flames. Since its introduction in April this year, the UFM has proven its mettle in two major warehouse fires, in Tuas and Sungei Kadut.
13. Thirdly, a strong partnership with the community has been a key asset for the SCDF. While SCDF will continue to focus on enhancing its operational response and capabilities, it needs the support of the community for first responder intervention.
14. Prompt intervention by trained members of the public can make the difference between life and death. If somebody has a medical condition that requires an almost immediate response, there is no better first responder than the person standing right next to him. They can effectively prevent an emergency from degenerating into something more serious. Such trained members of public are indeed our community first responders prior to the arrival of the SCDF at the scene of distress.
15. Hence, in line with SCDF’s 2025 Vision of “A Nation of Life Savers”, the SCDF will train more people in CPR-AED application, first-aid treatment and in operating fire extinguishers; and, more importantly, for them to step forward as community first responders during emergencies.
16. I would like to take this opportunity to commend members of the community as well as the Company Emergency Response Teams who have responded to fire and other emergencies. They have made a difference with their life saving skills, and displayed the true spirit of community first responders. For example, in March this year, Mr Yeo Hak Heng, a CERT Leader from Nee Soon South, provided prompt first-aid treatment to a bleeding motorcyclist who was hit in a road traffic accident prior to the arrival of the SCDF emergency responders. That prompt treatment ensured that the motorcyclist’s injuries did not worsen prior to the arrival of the ambulance.
Partnerships with the International Community
17. On the international front, the SCDF continues to strengthen its network of regional and global collaboration. I am glad to note that the UN International Search & Rescue Advisory Group, or UN INSARAG, has endorsed the SGFPC as a platform to promote collaboration among emergency responders around the world. The SGFPC is the only platform in South-East Asia where emergency responders pit their fire fighting and rescue skills against one another. This year, we have a record number of international participants from 17 countries in the SGFPC, including teams from China and Qatar which are participating for the first time. Events such as today’s SGFPC provide an excellent platform for the global community of emergency responders to come together to share their skills and experience, and to foster camaraderie.
18. In conjunction with the SGFPC, a Life Savers Connect is being held at the Singapore EXPO Hall 2. I urge everyone to get involved in the fun-filled activities lined up by the SCDF but, more importantly, also use the opportunity to acquire vital life-saving skills so as to effectively play your part as an active community first responder.
19. On that note, I wish all SCDF officers a happy SCDF Day and everyone here a fruitful day ahead. And to our overseas guests, I wish you an enjoyable stay in Singapore.
20. Thank you.