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The New Paper
July 29, 2019
Another fire caused by a charging power-assisted bike (PAB) broke out at an HDB block on Saturday.
This time, it involved a resident using an electrical socket in a public place to charge his PAB, or e-bike, instead of in his flat.
The fire happened on the first storey outside a unit at Block 191 Boon Lay Drive.
Two weeks ago, a blaze engulfed a fourth-storey unit at the same block.
The fire on July 15, which started on a mattress in a bedroom, forced 100 residents to be evacuated and six people were injured.
Fortunately, there were no reported injuries in the latest incident, although about 20 people had to self-evacuate from the block, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), who responded to the fire at around noon.
Experts and MPs The New Paper spoke to said electric sockets in void decks are not for public use due to safety and cost concerns.
Shin Min Daily News reported that a 36-year-old factory worker, who wanted to be known only as Amani, admitted that the PAB belonged to her son.
She told the Chinese-language newspaper that she was not able to pay for her household electricity bill and that her son had gone downstairs to charge his bike.
Thankfully, several residents spotted the fire and managed to put it out with buckets of water before the SCDF arrived.
Mr Patrick Tay, an MP for West Coast GRC, suggested that the Government can look into having designated areas in estates, similar to that of electric cars, for charging such devices.
He said: "These areas can also be equipped with safety and security measures installed to mitigate against any fires."
"It may be a better solution because when residents charge these devices in their homes, there could be items lying around that could pose as fire hazards," he added.
Mr Desmond Choo, an MP for Tampines GRC, said such spaces should also be away from areas with a high concentration of people, or areas with vulnerable people, such as hospitals or nursing homes.
But experts on personal mobility devices (PMD) and PABs stressed that the most important factor is that devices are compliant with safety standards.
Last week, the Land Transport Authority said it is reviewing whether to bring forward its end-2020 deadline that will ban all PMDs without a safety certification from public paths, in light of the recent fire incidents.
Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah agreed with the experts, adding that such communal charging points may also take a lot of resources in order for them to be convenient for all users.
Mr Denis Koh, an Active Mobility Advisory Panel member, advised users of PMDs and PABs to comply with regulations.
He said: "The location or the electrical source doesn't matter. As long as everyone abides by the regulations, the risk of such fires will decrease drastically."