Henderson Rd fire NSF death: Funeral wake tent blocked fire engine access point, causing 18-min delay

The police investigation is ongoing.

Sulaiman Daud | January 09, 2023, 03:56 PM

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Minister of State for Home Affairs Faishal Ibrahim provided more information on the case of Edward Go, a full-time National Serviceman (NSF) who died while responding to a fire at Henderson Road on Dec. 8.

Speaking in Parliament, Faishal responded to questions from Members of Parliament Murali Pillai of the PAP and Gerald Giam of the Workers' Party, who asked about Go's demise and the fire attended to by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

Funeral tent blocked fire engine access point

In response to Murali Pillai, who asked about the challenges faced by officers during the incident, Faishal said SCDF officers responding to the call found that the fire engine accessway leading to Block 91 Henderson Road was obstructed by a tent where a funeral wake was being held.

The officers removed the bollards that were padlocked to the ground near the tentage to create an access path, delaying their arrival by 18 minutes.

According to Faishal, based on the ground commander's assessment, 61 responders and 22 emergency vehicles from six fire stations were deployed.

The responders were made up of 60 per cent regulars, and 40 per cent full-time national servicemen.

Investigation ongoing

In the wake of the incident, Faishal himself previously said investigations were being carried out, and the public and Go's family will be informed once it has been completed.

In Parliament, Faishal said the police are currently conducting an independent, thorough investigation into Go's death and will apprise the coroner of their findings.

"The coroner will consider the police’s investigation findings, in determining the cause of death. Due to the ongoing investigations, we are unable to share further details at this stage," Faishal said.

He added that the SCDF will seek to understand what happened, including whether safety procedures were followed, and if necessary, whether these need to be tightened.

Firefighter training

Faishal also elaborated on the training undertaken by NSFs who are assigned roles as firefighters, in response to Giam.

Such NSFs need to be certified medically fit, with a PES status of A, B1 or B2.

They complete a four-week basic rescue training course and a 12-week firefighting course at the Civil Defence Academy (CDA).

"Firefighting training at the CDA is conducted with ‘live' fire simulators to provide realism, so that trainees gain experience operating in conditions similar to real-life firefighting. SCDF has protocols to ensure that the training curriculum is reviewed regularly to ensure currency," Faishal said.

After graduating from the academy, training continues to be an important part of a firefighter's daily routine, including NSFs, it was also revealed.

They undergo exercises and drills, as well as an annual proficiency test.

In an emergency, NSF firefighters and NSF section commanders are deployed alongside Regular Servicemen. NSmen and Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU) volunteer firefighters may also be deployed.

All firefighting personal protective equipment used by SCDF personnel are certified according to relevant international standards, such as the American National Fire Protection Association standards and European standards, Faishal added.

Officer Go had previous experience responding to fires

In a supplementary question, Murali Pillai said members of the House would join him in expressing their profound sadness for Go's demise in the line of duty, and his efforts to help keep Singapore safe and secure.

He then asked if there was a strategy to help better protect NSmen, as they generally have less experience.

In a lengthy response, Faishal said NSFs receive "robust and realistic training" and use the same equipment as regulars.

NSFs will also not "straight away" go to the frontline to fight fires, as there will be a period of time where their supervisors will observe the NSFs in their daily shifts and assess their performance during drills for their suitability, competence and confidence.

Crews responding to incidents are also balanced to ensure a "good mix" of seniority and experience among the personnel.

With regard to Go in particular, he attained the gold standard in IPPT and fared well in other course requirements, including an A grade in the breathing apparatus proficiency test.

"His performance, in fact, was among the top 25 per cent in his cohort," Faishal said. When he was posted to the Central Fire Station, he had already attended nearly 60 fire and rescue calls.

"So he was an officer with some level of experience as well," Faishal said.

Coroner open court

In another supplementary question, Sylvia Lim of the Workers' Party asked if there has been any decision on whether the coroner's inquiry will be held in open court, as there is a high element of public interest, and it would be good for the public to follow the circumstances of the case.

Faishal replied that the state coroner may decide to hold a coroner's inquiry to establish the circumstances leading to a death.

"So we will see how the police investigations go. So I will not make any assumptions or speculation regarding the investigation. Nevertheless, I assure the members that we're going to do a thorough and proper investigation," Faishal said.


On Dec. 8, the SCDF received a call about a fire at 91 Henderson Road. Go was part of the first response crew.

The 19-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF) fell unconscious in the kitchen area during the operation. He was then brought out of the unit and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was administered on him.

An SCDF ambulance crew at the scene also used the automated external defibrillator on him and conveyed him to Singapore General Hospital (SGH). He was later pronounced dead at the hospital, SCDF wrote.

Go enlisted with the SCDF to serve his National Service on Jan. 5, 2022. He received a posthumous promotion to Sgt (1).

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Top image from obit.sg and Mothership.