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Aqil Hamzah and David Sun
The Straits Times
Dec 9, 2022
He was a quiet and shy person, but he gave his best and was always smiling even when he was drenched in sweat and tired from training.
Firefighter Edward H. Go, 19, enlisted in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on Jan 5, 2022, and had aspirations to enrol in medical school upon completion of his national service. But on Thursday, he tragically died after fighting a fire in a rental flat at Block 91 Henderson Road.
The SCDF said he fell unconscious in the kitchen area of the fourth-storey flat. His crew took him out of the unit and tried to resuscitate him before he was taken to Singapore General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
In a statement on Friday night, SCDF said Corporal Go is the first person from the SCDF to have died during an operation. It said Cpl Go was certified medically fit before his enlistment. His medical fitness was assessed according to what is called the physical employment standard (PES), and he was categorised as PES A. Servicemen under this category are considered suitable for frontline operational vocations.
After enlisting, he trained as a firefighter for 12 weeks, from Feb 3 until April 28, the statement added. He was then posted to the Central Fire Station on May 4, and responded to more than 20 fire and rescue incidents during his time there, said the statement.
News of Cpl Go’s death led to an outpouring of grief from members of the public on social media. Those who knew him described him as a bright and brave person.
Mr Shihan Ahnaf Shoeb, 23, who trained Cpl Go in the SCDF, said the fallen firefighter was really quiet in the first month of his Basic Rescue Training. He said: “But over time, he started to talk more, and he always smiled. That is what I remember most about him.
“He was a really bright kid, the kind that just by talking to him, you would know how smart he is and how bright his future was.”
Praising the firefighter’s character, Mr Shihan said Cpl Go struggled early on in training and was “quite skinny”, but he never gave up. When he enlisted, Cpl Go would shiver from barely doing five push-ups, but kept striving and improved his physical fitness significantly by the time he had completed his training, he added.
Mr Shihan, who is now a student, said: “He never once complained... He endured everything and always pushed through. A real brave soldier to say the least... he was the last person I expected for something like this to happen to.”
Facebook user Anne W. Holloway put up a post saying she is a friend of Cpl Go’s grandmother, and that she was shocked to find out about his death through friends in Hong Kong. She wrote: “By his proud grandmother’s accounts, he was a lovely child while growing up, a source of much joy and happiness.”
She added that the family is devoutly Christian and very close-knit.
She said: “It can only be devastating for them. Please pray for Edward’s family so that they may bear this huge loss and recover from it. Pray also for Edward, a promising young man who had no chance to live the life which once was his.”
Facebook user Charles Ho, who identified himself as Cpl Go’s uncle, said on the social media platform that his nephew was always jovial, and was a “straight-A student” who planned to go to medical school.
A woman, believed to be the teenager’s mother, turned up at the mortuary at the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Friday morning, and was accompanied by several SCDF personnel.
Shin Min Daily News reported that she had entered the mortuary at about 10am before leaving about half an hour later. She was described as looking tired and sad, with tears in her eyes. When approached, she told reporters that she was “too broken”.
The wake is expected to be held from Sunday, with the funeral taking place on Tuesday.
SCDF said in its statement that it is providing Cpl Go’s family with its fullest support, and that with the family’s agreement, it will be holding a ceremonial funeral to honour him.