Inquiry reveals NSF who died in pump well was pushed by colleague, SCDF imposes follow-up actions

A Board of Inquiry revealed that full-time national serviceman Corporal (CPL) Kok Yuen Chin, 22, was pushed into the pump well at Tuas View Fire Station by a colleague. 

In the first detailed reconstruction of the tragedy that happened on May 13 this year, the Board's report highlights how a celebration that commenced with a cake and the presentation of a plaque ended in CPL Kok's death, reports The Straits Times

CPL Kok was on his last tour of duty before his operationally ready date (ORD) on May 16, said the Board in its report released on Thursday (Sep 13).

His colleagues at the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) held a celebration for him at the station's watch room to mark his impending ORD between 8.40pm and 9.04pm on May 13, the report said. He was presented with a cake and a plaque by the 23-man team from his Rota. 

Following the celebration, some of his team members carried CPL Kok, who was a non-swimmer according to his family, to the pump well, where he sat on the edge.

At 9.07pm, one of the officers went behind him and pushed him into the well, the report said. 

Eight seconds after CPL Kok failed to resurface, the first serviceman jumped into the well to rescue him. 

Other servicemen jumped in as well after that, but could not find him.

The servicemen then used a fire engine suction pump to pump water out of the well, and those jumping in subsequently used breathing apparatus to dive deeper into the well.

CPL Kok was eventually discovered within the well by one of the servicemen. The servicemen then worked together to pull CPL Kok out with the use of ropes.

He was extracted from the pump well at 9.43pm, about 36 minutes after he had fallen in, the report said. 

Paramedics then tried to resuscitate their colleague, but to no avail.

He was conveyed to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and arrived at 10.13pm.

CPL Kok was pronounced dead at 11.02pm, and the cause of death is found to be drowning, according to an autopsy. 

Following the report submitted by the Board that was convened by the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr K Shanmugam, on May 22, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has considered the Board's recommendations thoroughly.

In a statement released by the SCDF on Thursday (Sep 13), follow-up actions in three key areas were implemented:

  • Reinforcing a culture of care and safety;

  • Enhancing command responsibility across various levels of leadership; and

  • Reviewing operational and training needs.

The follow-up actions include introducing stiffer penalties against ragging and developing a comprehensive programme on command responsibility to prevent ragging activities for officers across various levels of leadership.

The SCDF will also be decommissioning all 19 pump wells located at fire stations, since the testing of fire engine water pumps and related training can be conducted at the Civil Defence Academy (CDA) without affecting operations. Decommissioning of the wells involves filling them up with granite chips and covering them with concrete slabs.

These works are expected to be completed by December 2018.