Rise in fires caused by charging batteries a cause for concern, says SCDF

Hariz Baharudin
The New Paper
18 February 2017

Charging batteries overnight may seem convenient, but it can cause deadly accidents.

Two people died when a fire broke out in a two-storey house in Parry Avenue, near Yio Chu Kang Road, on June 6, 2015.

A coroner's inquiry revealed that a set of drone batteries charging overnight could have sparked the fire.

Yesterday, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) released its annual statistics for last year.

It highlighted the higher number of cases of fires originating from rechargeable batteries as a cause for concern.

According to the SCDF, the number of fires involving the batteries of electric bicycles, personal mobility devices and power banks increased from 16 in 2015 to 34 last year.

The number of personal mobility device battery fires surged from one in 2015 to 14 last year.

The SCDF said battery fires can be caused by faulty electrical circuitry. The high current drawn by such circuitry can generate enough heat to ignite materials near the devices.

Assistant Commissioner Ling Young Ern, department director of SCDF operations, said yesterday: "In general, we do not advise the overnight charging of batteries because you can never monitor when it is fully charged when you are sleeping. The tendency to overcharge is high."Rubbish fires were another area of concern.

Despite a decrease of 6.6 per cent compared to 2015, they still formed the majority of fires in residential premises.

Out of the 2,818 fires there, 1,444 (51.2 per cent) were in rubbish bins or chutes.

These fires, the SCDF said, can be prevented by not throwing lighted materials, such as embers and burning cigarette butts, into bins or chutes.

The SCDF added that the public can help put out rubbish fires when the fires are just starting.

Last year, about 20 per cent of rubbish fires were put out by people before the SCDF arrived.


The SCDF said that in the past three weeks, 41 out of the 104 rubbish fires were put out by people after being prompted by its call centre.

They used buckets of water, domestic hoses and hosereels.

Colonel Abdul Razak Raheem, director of the SCDF's public affairs department and volunteer community partnership department, stressed that the public should not put themselves at risk when extinguishing such fires.

The SCDF also highlighted how it received an average of 50 non-emergency and false alarm calls each day.

It said you should call 1777 for private and non-emergency ambulance operators for non-life threatening cases.

This way, the SCDF's resources would be better used for more urgent cases.

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