Central Fire Station, Singapore
The Central Fire Station (Chinese: 中央消防局) is the oldest existing fire station in Singapore, and is located at Hill Street in the Museum Planning Area, within the Central Area. The building currently houses the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery, the official museum of the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
The idea for a professional Fire Brigade was conceived after a fire in Kling Street destroyed S$13,000 worth of property on 7 November 1855. It was 14 years before a volunteer fire service was started and a further 36 years before Singapore's first proper fire station — Central Fire Station — was built.
In 1905, planning for Central Fire Station began under the supervision of the Fire Brigade superintendent, Montague Pett. The station was completed in 1909. Built at a cost of S$64,000, it included a watch tower and living quarters for firemen.
Central Fire Station had four portable water pumps. Nonetheless, even this basic setting was a huge improvement over what existed before. Superintendent Pett fought for improved working conditions and initiated fire safety measures in public buildings. Standards of operations rose to a professional level and the degree of fire-related damage fell significantly.
The handing over of the fire service to Pett and the setting up of Central Fire Station was a welcome and much needed change. From that time, the Fire Brigade has consistently grown and improved. It became so invaluable that during the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese retained British firemen in their jobs, who were thus spared incarceration.
Although the Singapore Fire Service was integrated with the Singapore Civil Defence Force in 1989 and is no longer an independent entity, the Central Fire Station remains in use today.
The Civil Defence Heritage Gallery housed in Central Fire Station showcases the history of firefighting in Singapore, and reveals the developments of civil defence in Singapore from the 19th century till today.
Visitors to the heritage gallery can learn about the civil defence's progression in Singapore through the years, with displays of antique fire engines and other firefighting equipment. There are customised interactive stations for a close-up experience of what fire fighters and rescuers go through during a mission. There are also tours up the hose tower of the Central Fire Station, which was Singapore's highest point during the 1920s.
- National Heritage Board (2002), Singapore's 100 Historic Places, Archipelago Press, ISBN 981-4068-23-3
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