Female infant and male occupant sent to hospital after PMD-related fire in Bukit Batok flat

A PMD-related fire broke out at the fifth-floor unit at Block 416, Bukit Batok West Avenue 4 on the morning of 8 October, 2019. (PHOTOS: SCDF/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — Two people, including a female infant, were conveyed to hospital after a fire involving a personal mobility device (PMD) broke out in a Bukit Batok flat early Tuesday (8 October) morning, a day after a possible ban on such devices was mooted in Parliament.

About 30 residents from the affected block were also evacuated by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) as a precautionary measure.

In a Facebook post, the SCDF said it responded at about 10.40am to the fire at a fifth-floor unit at Block 416, Bukit Batok West Avenue 4.

The fire, which was extinguished by the SCDF with one water jet, had involved the contents of a bedroom, the post added.

A male occupant from the affected unit and a female infant from a sixth-floor unit were assessed by paramedics and conveyed to Singapore General Hospital and KK Women's and Children's Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Preliminary investigations into the cause of the fire indicated that it was of electrical origin from a PMD, which was charging at the time of the fire, the SCDF said.

The authority also called for all owners of non-UL2272 certified PMDs to “dispose their devices at designated disposal points as soon as possible”.

This comes a day after Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Transport, said in Parliament that the government may have “no choice” but to ban the usage of such devices in Singapore, if the behaviour of PMD users does not improve.

PMDs, as well as bicycles or power-assisted bicycles, were banned from void decks and all common areas of 15 housing estates last month.

“We need footpaths to be safe for pedestrians again,” Dr Janil said, adding that the government will be revisiting its plans on public path safety to see where it needs to rethink its approach and possibly introduce new measures. He had asked for “one or two months” for his ministry to conduct a thorough review on the matter.

A total of 228 accidents involving PMDs on public paths were reported in 2017 and 2018. Of these accidents, 196 cases involved injuries.

Separately, on Monday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that it will be scheduling mandatory inspections for UL2272-certified e-scooters registered before 1 April 2020 at “no cost to existing owners”.

From 1 April 2020, all new e-scooters will have to pass the inspection before they can be registered for use on public paths. Retailers and other businesses will only be able to display, sell or lease devices that have passed the inspection and bear the registration mark, said the LTA.

All non-UL2272-certified e-scooters will be automatically deregistered from 1 July 2020, which is the deadline for mandatory UL2272 compliance for e-scooters used on public paths.

E-scooters that are UL2272-certified but do not comply with the weight, width and speed requirements during inspection will also have their registration cancelled by the LTA.

Those who fail to send their devices for inspection by 1 April next year are liable to be fined up to $1,000, jailed up to three months, or both, if convicted. It is also an offence to ride an unregistered e-scooter on a public path. First-time offenders face a fine of up to $5,000, a jail term of up to three months, or both.

According to the SCDF, fires involving PMDs and power-assisted bicycles (PABs) more than doubled in the first half of this year from the same period a year earlier.

The number of such reported fires between January and June rose to 54, of which 49 were PMD-related fires, from 24 previously. Of the 54 reported fires, 36 took place in residential premises, resulting in 31 casualties. In comparison, 23 of the 24 reported fires a year earlier resulted in 11 casualties.

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