The Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) mission is to protect and save lives and property for a safe and secure Singapore. Their vision is to be a World Class organization providing fire-fighting, rescue and emergency ambulance services through professionalism, operational excellence and service quality.
SCDF is a uniformed organisation under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The main role of SCDF is to provide fire-fighting, rescue and emergency ambulance services; mitigating hazardous materials incidents, as well as formulate, implement and enforce regulations on fire safety and civil defence shelter matters.
SCDF also actively engages the local community through its wide-ranging public educational programmes and community-based activities to enhance the resilience and emergency preparedness of the civilian population.
Today,SCDF is recognised as a professional body of well-trained officers and specialists geared to round-the-clock respond to all types of life-threatening emergencies. An operationally-ready SCDF, working hand-in-hand with a prepared and resilient population, ensures that the nation is capable of handling any untoward eventualities
Lystraa Chan jobsDB.com speak to MAJ Lee Kok Chuen, SSG Ong Chien Lee and SSG Low Pey Yun from SCDF to find out more about their interesting roles and individual job scopes.
• Monitoring of fire statistics and identifying trends;
• To conduct documentation of a fire scene
• To provide analytical computer modelling simulations and conduct scientific experiments to assist in the investigation on the origin and causes of fires
• To analyse and determine common modus operandi or factors which could assist in the apprehending of arsonists.
• Conducting benchmarking studies with other fire investigation agencies in various countries such as the USA, China and Australia
Besides being analytical, what other qualities should a Fire Analysis Team Leader possess?
A Fire Analysis Team Leader should be systematic and organized to ensure statistics are continually being mined from daily reports. The incumbent should also have a determined personality to ensure that such monitoring of statistics and trends are continually maintained to the required standards.
What special knowledge or skills does a Fire Analysis Team Leader need to have?
It would be beneficial for a Fire Analysis Team Leader to have some background in statistical/trend analysis. Basic knowledge and interest in fire dynamics and digital photography would also serve the officer well in the job.Continuous training opportunities in the local scene or overseas are constantly evaluated and officers will be sent for suitable courses.
What challenges are you up against when you document a fire scene?
Even after the fire has been extinguished, the fire scene will still have some heat which dissipates with time. The scene may also be strewn with debris and electrical wires which serves as physical hazards to investigators moving around in the fire scene.
Other than the physical challenges/hazards that one may face when documenting a fire scene, there is also the time factor to be considered. It is crucial to properly document a scene before physical evidence can be collected to be sent to the laboratories for analysis. The quality of the physical evidence degrades with time and timing of collection is crucial in the quality of the sample collected.
Is it part of your work to travel to overseas countries? Tell us more.
It depends on the requirements of the organization and also whether there is a need to evaluate the various new equipment and Fire Investigation Techniques available overseas on a personal basis. Overseas Fire Investigation agencies contacts have been setup and this also facilitates the benchmarking studies to be completed on an annual basis via teleconferencing, emails etc.
What advice would you give someone who is new to Fire Analysis?
It would be beneficial for someone new to Fire Analysis to have an inquisitive mind and who is willing to gain knowledge from the experienced Fire Investigators in the Fire Investigation Unit. It would also be good to respond to scenes for fire investigation in the initial few months to have a deeper understanding of the entire fire investigation process.
• Operational duties include leading and guiding team of fire-fighters to conduct Hazmat, Fire-fighting and Rescue operations.
• Skilled in handling a range of fire-fighting and rescue equipment.
• Trained in incident management and fire investigation.
• Trained in the specialised detection and containment of hazardous chemicals and toxins.
• Assist Rota Commander and Deputy Rota Commander in managing day-to-day operations of a fire station.
What are your duties as a Hazmat Specialist?
1. Respond to incidents involving hazardous chemicals and chemical agents.
2. Detect, contain and mitigate spills and leakages.
3. Rescue and decontaminate casualties.
4. Provide expert advice on matters concerning hazmat.
What are the personal qualities a good Hazmat Specialist should possess?
1. High level of fitness.
2. Ability to work under pressure and time constraint.
3. Anticipate problems, think out of the box and provide rapid solutions.
4. Good knowledge of chemistry, biology and toxicology.
Is there a great deal of risk attached to your work?
Yes. However, with regular training, drills and advanced equipment, the risk involved is considerably lower.
Describe your usual day at work.
A typical day’s programme will consist of:
- Checking of appliances and equipment.
- Drills involving fire, hazmat or rescue scenarios
- Chemical Agent (CA) acclimatization drill whereby we will don CA suits and go through various exercises to condition ourselves.
- Enforcement checks, operational surveys and hydrant testing.
- Physical training such as static exercises, gym work, sports or games.
- Night lectures that cover topics such as Road Traffic Accident (RTA) procedures or basic chemistry.
- Turning out for numerous incidents: fire, rescue, oil spillage incidents etc.
What are the greatest challenges that a Hazmat Specialist will face?
It would be the unpredictable and dynamic job nature. There will be days when there will not be a single incident at all. On other days, you might have to response and attend to emergencies in the middle of your shower. However, these are part and parcel of the job. Every incident is different and so is the learning experience.
• To save life
• Provide pre-hospital (emergency) health care/first aid to the public.
• To educate and share with the public (eg. during road shows) on the importance of emergency care and how to perform general first aid and effective CPR
How did you decide to be a Paramedic and was it the correct decision?
I used to be a volunteer (overseas and locally) and I enjoyed helping people. Being a Paramedic provides the opportunity for me to assist and aid people in emergency and non – emergency situations. Becoming a Paramedic was definitely a correct decision for me.
What personal attributes should a Paramedic possess?
As a Paramedic, one needs to be:
• Quick-thinking and decisive
• Discipline and has the ability to perform the jobs at all hours
• Compassionate and shows empathy to others
• Has Integrity
• Honest and Responsible
• Good Communication Skill
• Physically Fit
Qns: What aspects of being a Paramedic are the most challenging?
It would be having the ability to accurately diagnose the patient’s medical condition quickly and administer appropriate protocols/treatments to help improve/sustain and to prevent his/her condition from deteriorating.
Would you describe your job as stressful and demanding?
Yes. A Paramedic is expected to always perform his/her rightful duties even under stressful (life & death) situations, under all weather conditions and sometimes even in dangerous/unexpected conditions. One also has to remain calm and tactful while dealing with critically injured/sick patients with distressed relatives or members of the public who can be abusive and violent. It can be physically and mentally stressful.
How did this job change you as a person?
Besides gaining useful medical knowledge, skills and insights from the job, I’ve learned how to handle people better by understanding and listening to them.
Fire and Rescue Specialists
For more information on SCDF and the career opportunities available, please visit SCDF.