Earlier, it was reported that the Chinese media sent 2 reporters to 5 different HDB flat types to compare their corridor width. They took measurements and walked past each other to find out the ease of doing so.
The reporters found that the corridors at 2 privately built DBSS developments are the narrowest. The width of the common corridors at Pasir Ris One and The Peak @ Toa Payoh are 1.2 m and 1.25 m respectively.
In the case of Pasir Ris One, corridors were found to be less than 1.2 m i.e. 1.17 m at some places, flouting the construction rules laid down for corridor designs. Both reporters had to slant sideways when they walked past each other at such corridors in order to avoid body contact.
BCA says no problem with 1.17 m wide corridors
According to the Fire Safety Code administered by SCDF, the width of common corridors has to be at least 1.2 m. The 1.17 m corridors in some places of Pasir Ris One is a clear violation of the Fire Safety Code.
Under the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Code on Accessibility, common corridors must have a minimum width of 1.2 m to allow unimpeded access for persons on a wheelchair.
BCA said that before issuing the Temporary Occupancy Permit (TOP) for Pasir Ris One, inspections had been conducted and the corridors were found to be generally 1.2 m wide.
With regard to the 1.17 m width at some places of Pasir Ris One’s corridors, BCA felt that the 3 cm difference may be due to “error during construction phase”. BCA said that this difference does not impact the accessibility of persons on wheelchairs.
BCA had previously stipulated the 1.2 m minimum width requirement for corridors in its 2013 Code on Accessibility. But from April 2014, it updated its code for some reasons, stipulating that corridors now need to have a minimum width of 1.5 m.
Still, it seems that Pasir Ris One’s violation of the Code on Accessibility does not draw any punitive action from BCA. It seems to view the violation as a very minor thing, allowing the developer to just “move on”.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan who oversees BCA continues to remain silent over the issue on why BCA is condoning the developer to violate BCA’s Code on Accessibility (‘Khaw remains silent on 1.17 m corridor issue‘). If even Mr Khaw also condones this, what is the point of having a code in the first place?
SCDF also says corridor width meets requirements of Fire Code
Notwithstanding the BCA’s stance, fire safety is definitely a major concern for residential developments. Based on the Fire Incident Statistics provided by the SCDF, in 2014 there were 2,888 cases of fire in residential premises. On average, there are 7.9 cases of residential fires occurring in Singapore everyday.
Many netizens are asking if fires break out at Pasir Ris One and lives are lost due to congestion at the sub-standard corridors, who is going to bear the responsibility?
Today (23 Jul), a Colonel Razak Raheem, Director of Public Affairs Department in SCDF finally replied in ST Forum saying that they have already inspected Pasir Ris One and found the corridors to be have met the “requirements of the Fire Code”.
“The SCDF has conducted checks at Pasir Ris One and confirmed that the width of the common corridors at Pasir Ris One meets the requirements of the Fire Code,” Colonel Razak said.
He revealed that BCA together with other authorities, including the SCDF, approved the building plans for Pasir Ris One in 2012.
“These plans fulfilled the then prevailing design requirements, such as BCA’s Code on accessibility for the Built Environment, which facilitates access for wheelchair users, and the SCDF Fire Code, which provides for the safe conduct of emergency evacuation,” he added.
He further stated that the fire-rated doors installed at Pasir Ris One “do not impede emergency evacuation along the corridors as they open inward”.
“In addition, most metal gates, which open outwards, do not pose any obstruction to evacuation,” he said.
However, Colonel Razak also said that SCDF has found some metal gates that could potentially cause obstruction if the gates of opposite-facing units are opened at the same time.
“The SCDF has therefore instructed the architect of Pasir Ris One to take immediate action to rectify these metal gates,” he explained.
“The SCDF also advises residents to keep the corridors free of clutter, in order not to hinder firefighting efforts, evacuation and conveyance of patients during a medical emergency. The SCDF is committed to ensuring that all developments comply with the requirements of the Fire Code.”
1.17m or not 1.17m?
It’s strange that SCDF said the width of the corridors at Pasir Ris One meets the requirements of the Fire Code (i.e, minimum width of 1.2m for all corridors) when reporters from Chinese media had found some places to be short of 3cm at 1.17m.
Perhaps the reporters were using measuring tapes not approved by SCDF?
What do you think?