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Fire safety: Step up enforcement against those who block HDB staircase landings with household items

The spate of fires this year in various Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates, including Bedok, Tampines, Telok Blangah, Toa Payoh and Woodlands, is a reminder of how easily fire can spread and the danger it poses.

Fire safety: Step up enforcement against those who block HDB staircase landings with household items
Fires broke out overnight on Jan 29, 2022 at (clockwise from left) Block 39 Telok Blangah Rise, Block 204 Bedok North Street 1 and Block 941 Tampines Avenue 5.
Tong Jee Cheng

The spate of fires this year in various Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates, including Bedok, Tampines, Telok Blangah, Toa Payoh and Woodlands, is a reminder of how easily fire can spread and the danger it poses.  

Some of these fires involved the contents of the flats and spread to other parts of the block within a short time. 

Fires that start within flats are not the only menace.

Those at the common staircase landings have the potential of being even more dangerous as smoke could affect the whole block quickly via the stairwell, impeding the possibility of escape. 

Misusing staircase landings as a personal storage area is a recurring problem. 

Town councils should strictly enforce the rule of no storage of things at staircase landings of HDB blocks. These are public areas and placing items there increases the risk of fires starting, including those from mischief and arson. 

Materials stored at staircase landings also cause obstruction and hinder evacuation. 

Many materials are combustible when they reach certain temperatures, and some materials emit more toxic and dense smoke than others. 

When lifts are grounded in the event of a fire, a staircase is the only escape route.  

In many HDB blocks, residents have only one escape staircase. The exception is residents who live on floors that have common corridors linking them. 

Town councils should give official notice to residents for the removal of materials stored at staircase landings, just as they do abandoned bicycles at void decks. 

When the notice expires, the town councils should remove the items that have not been cleared. 

Items left at staircase landings can pose a serious problem as they are a potential trap. 

For repeat offenders, the Singapore Civil Defence Force should be notified and the inconsiderate resident penalised under the Fire Safety Act for endangering public safety.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

Related topics

HDB Singapore Civil Defence Force town council fire fire safety

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