30 July 2014

Speech by Mr S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Officer and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry, at the National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council Appreciation Night and Awards Ceremony

Mr Alan Loh, Chairman, National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council;

Commissioner Eric Yap, Singapore Civil Defence Force;

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good evening to all of you.

2. I am pleased to be here tonight. I am heartened to see the number of participants for tonight’s event. I also like to take this opportunity to welcome the Emergency Preparedness champions from the constituencies and schools, who have been invited to this ceremony for the very first time.

APPRECIATION TO COUNCIL MEMBERS

3. The Council has come a long way since its formation in 1986.  Originally called the National Fire Prevention Council, its role was initially to engage Singaporeans on fire safety and prevention matters. Recognising that community emergency preparedness must also be inculcated in every facet of our daily lives, the Council took on this added role, and was renamed the National Fire and Civil Emergency Preparedness Council, or ‘NFEC’ in short, in 2007. 

4. Over the past 7 years since taking on its new mandate, NFEC has continued its partnership with the SCDF to reach out to different segments of society.  Together with stakeholders and partners, the NFEC has embarked on various fire safety programmes and exercises, and worked to ensure a high level of fire safety standards in premises. 

A NATION OF LIFE SAVERS

5. In continuing with the theme of encouraging community emergency preparedness, at this year’s Workplan Seminar in April, SCDF announced its 2025 vision of building a “Nation of Life Savers,” a community that is trained and ready to respond to emergencies. Every second counts in an emergency. It has been proven time and again that the presence of one who is trained to respond to emergencies makes a vital difference towards the positive outcomes of saving lives or preventing damage to property. An ‘emergency response ready’ community is the way forward for Singapore.

MEGA EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AWARD CEREMONY

6. Tonight’s Mega Emergency Preparedness Award Ceremony is the first time that we are giving out the Fire Safety and Emergency Preparedness Awards to 187 recipients in three different categories, namely the CD Ready School, CD Ready Home and CD Ready Workplace. This three-pronged approach is a strategic shift from the previous emphasis on the workplace, with added focus on emergency preparedness awareness at homes and in schools. 

7. These awards reflect the concerted efforts of our partners and stakeholders in making the home, schools and workplaces a safer place for all. For example, in the CD Ready Home category, the inaugural National Civil Emergency Preparedness Award is given out to deserving constituencies in recognition of the work of grassroots leaders and the Community Emergency Response Teams in imparting and promoting emergency preparedness knowledge and skills to the residents. These efforts include drawing up constituency emergency plans and validating them through fire and evacuation drills. 

HIGHLIGHTS OF UPCOMING NFEC ACTIVITIES 

8. NFEC and SCDF will jointly organise the Fire Safety Asia Conference 2014 in September this year. This triennial conference will include topics such as the current and future challenges of fire protection, and evacuation strategies of high-rise buildings. These are indeed current and pertinent subjects for professionals and consequence managers. Participants will be able to network with like-minded individuals and experts, both locally as well as from overseas, to gain further insights and learn best practices on fire safety and emergency management. 

9. SCDF’s new Emergency Preparedness Centre at the Central Fire Station will commence operations next year.  With its extensive use of multi-media technology, this new centre allows hands-on experience in dealing with realistic virtual scenarios, for individuals to practise their fire safety and life saving skills. This will better prepare them for real life incidents and increase their confidence in handling contingencies when the need arises.

10. The Emergency Preparedness Centre is an excellent example of private-public sector collaboration, with private sector organisations such as City Gas, Shaw Foundation and NFEC sponsoring the centre, while SCDF runs its day-to-day operations. I would like to extend my appreciation to all corporate sponsors, including the NFEC, for their staunch support in establishing the centre to further enhance community emergency preparedness in Singapore. 

CONCLUSION

11. In conclusion, I would like to commend the NFEC for its outstanding work and for organising tonight’s ceremony. To all the award recipients, I convey my heartiest congratulations to you. 

12. I wish you a pleasant evening ahead. Thank you.