51 per cent spike in PAB, PMD fire cases last year: SCDF

FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore
FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore

The number of fires involving Power-Assisted Bicycles (PAB) and Personal Mobility Devices (PMD) spiked in 2018, increasing by more than 50 per cent from the year before, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on Friday (22 February).

According to its Fire, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Enforcement statistics for 2018, there were 74 cases of fire involving PABs and PWDs in 2018, a sharp increase from just 49 cases in 2017.

Most of such fires involved the lithium ion batteries that power these devices, and occurred during battery charging or shortly after.

SOURCE: Singapore Civil Defence Force
SOURCE: Singapore Civil Defence Force

SCDF said it has conducted post-fire public education house visits together with grassroots leaders and distributed leaflets to educate residents on fire safety and prevention.

It has also given the following tips on preventing battery fires:

  • Do not leave batteries or devices to charge unattended overnight or over a prolonged period.

  • Ensure that the PAB or PWD complies with the Land Transport Authority’s guidelines under the Active Mobility Act, and purchase devices only from reputable sources.

  • Do not tamper with, modify or attempt to repair a device on one’s own.

  • When charging the devices, charge in a cool room and away from heat. Place the devices on hard, open and flat surfaces. Do not place near combustible materials, or near an entrance/exit or in the way of your escape.

In total, SCDF responded to 3,885 fire calls last year, a slight increase of 0.4 per cent from 3,871 cases in 2017. While the number of fires at residential premises fell, the number of fires in non-residential premises and at non-building places such as vegetation, rubbish in open spaces and vehicles went up.

There were 90 fire injuries and four fatalities in 2018, an increase from 60 injuries and three fatalities in 2017. Of the injuries, 46 were smoke inhalation cases, while the remaining 44 suffered burns.

About 50 non-emergency and false alarm calls a day

SCDF said that it received about 50 non-emergency and false alarm calls every day in 2018.

Non-emergency calls – where urgent medical assistance is not required and where the patient could seek non-urgent medical help at the nearest clinic instead – dropped by 8.7 per cent to 10,398 last year, while false alarm calls – which include incidents where no patients were found at the incident scene – remained stable at 7,556 calls.

Nonetheless, they still made up 9.7 per cent of all EMS calls – about 50 per day.

SCDF said, “For non-emergency cases who insist on going to a hospital, they will be advised to make their own arrangements, or call 1777 for a non-emergency ambulance for conveyance at a fee.

“This will ensure that SCDF’s resources are utilised only for emergency cases.”

Last year, SCDF responded to a total of 187,607 EMS calls – a rise of 2.8 per cent or 5,105 calls from 2017. This also translates to about 500 calls a day.

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