Singapore Civil Defence Force national serviceman, Corporal Muhammad Aliff Amirrudin Abdul Razak, 21, and his section commander were moving alonng the fourth storey corridor of a burning industrial building to assess the fire and rescue any trapped survivors, but little did they know that it could have been them who would lose their lives.
Moving through the scorching heat and thick smoke obscuring their vision, they heard sudden loud explosions beyond one of the doors next to them. These were followed by more explosions around them, forcing the team into a retreat.
Corporal Aliff recalled: “”Together with my team, we shuffled our way down, (reminding) one another to hold on to the railing and ensure everyone’s safety as we retreated from the dark staircase landing.”
Despite carrying over 20KG of firefighting equipment and having their vision obstructed by the smoke, the team finally reached the staging area outside safely. However, just as they reached the area, the windows of the fourth storey exploded outwards with a huge blast, pelting everything and everyone below with glass shards.
“At that point, I knew we had made the right decision at the right time to retreat,” Aliff said.
Yet this was just a day in the life of a firefighter. Cpl Aliff, who enlisted with the SCDF in 2015, has been fighting fires since.
The fire that day on 17 August 2016 lasted a full 16 hours, razing the CK Building in Tampines to a charred skeleton.
When he reached home at 9AM the next day, Cpl Aliff was dead tired. He slept for more than a day.
When asked what had happened by his parents, he told them what had happened and they were surprised that he had lasted more than 12 hours in those conditions.