SCDF officer charged with causing grievous hurt by rash act over death of 19-year-old NSF firefighter

Samuel Devaraj
The Straits Times
Oct 16, 2023

A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer who allegedly left a full-time national serviceman (NSF) to fight an HDB flat fire alone was charged on Monday.

The NSF, Sergeant 1 Edward H. Go, suffocated and died. The officer, Muhammad Kamil Mohamed Yasin, 38, was charged with one count of causing grievous hurt by a rash act which endangers life or the personal safety of others.

He is accused of exiting the fourth-floor unit at Block 91 Henderson Road on Dec 8, 2022, leaving Sgt 1 Go alone in the burning unit and failing to inform anyone about it.

Sgt 1 Go, 19, is the first firefighter to have died during an SCDF firefighting operation.

In a statement on Saturday, the Singapore Police Force said Kamil went against standard procedures by allegedly leaving Sgt 1 Go alone in the unit to fight the blaze without informing anyone.

The autopsy certified that Sgt 1 Go died of suffocation due to a depleted air cylinder. The police said investigations did not find any evidence to suggest Sgt 1 Go’s death was due to equipment failure.

In court on Monday, Kamil’s lawyer, Mr Ashwin Ganapathy, said he would like to interview another officer involved in the case.

District Judge Lorraine Ho said that while he was not allowed to contact prosecution witnesses, he could write in for permission to speak to the officer.

Kamil’s pre-trial conference will take place on Nov 17.

If convicted, he can be jailed for up to four years, fined up to $10,000, or both.

SCDF said on Saturday a second officer had been referred by the police for investigations related to the fire. This officer allegedly failed to adequately ensure the overall safety of the firefighting operation when he subsequently arrived and took over command and control of the incident, said SCDF.

SCDF has, for now, redeployed the officer to a non-supervisory and non-operational post.

A statement from SCDF the day after the incident said Sgt 1 Go’s crew immediately took him out of the Housing Board flat and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him. SCDF paramedics there used an automated external defibrillator on him and took him to Singapore General Hospital. He was pronounced dead in hospital.

SCDF added then that Sgt 1 Go was certified medically fit before his enlistment and categorised under the physical employment standard (PES) as PES A. Servicemen in this category are considered suitable for front-line operational vocations such as firefighting.

In Parliament in January, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said Sgt 1 Go attained a gold standard in his individual physical proficiency test and an A grade in his breathing apparatus proficiency test.

These are tests all NSFs must go through before they can be deployed as firefighters.

He had also fared well in other mandatory course requirements and attended to nearly 60 fire and rescue calls after he was posted to Central Fire Station in May 2022.

Dr Faishal said that on the day of the incident, responding SCDF officers were delayed by 18 minutes, as the fire engine access way leading to the block was obstructed by a tent where a funeral was being held.

The officers had to remove bollards that were padlocked to the ground near the tent to create an access path, he added.

After the incident, SCDF conducted a review of its firefighting procedures, operational safety, equipping and training.

On Saturday, it said it audited more than 260 firefighting operations conducted between January 2021 and December 2022 to assess if they had appropriate command and control. The audit found the operations conducted were competent and safe, but there were occasional individual lapses.

The Straits Times

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