Fire Safety Act
(CHAPTER 109A)

(Original Enactment: Act 39 of 1993)

REVISED EDITION 2000
(30th December 2000)
An Act to make provisions for fire safety and for matters connected therewith.
[8th April 1994]
PART I
PRELIMINARY
Short title
1.  This Act may be cited as the Fire Safety Act.
Interpretation
2.—(1)  In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires —
“building” has the same meaning as in the Building Control Act (Cap. 29);
“building works” has the same meaning as in the Building Control Act;
“Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Civil Defence appointed under section 6 of the Civil Defence Act (Cap. 42);
“fire hazard” means any matter or circumstance which materially increases the likelihood of fire or the danger to life or property that would result from the outbreak of fire and includes —
(a)any alteration to any building in contravention of any law relating to building works or fire safety works such as might render escape in the event of fire more difficult;
(b)the overcrowding of any place of public resortsuch as might render escape in the event of fire more difficult;
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(c)any removal from any building of any fire safety measure which was provided in such building in accordance with plans approved by the Commissioner under section 23;
(d)the presence in any building of any fire safety measure which from lack of proper maintenance or for any other reason is not in efficient working order;
(e)the obstruction of escape routes, passageways or common property of any building such as might render escape in the event of fire more difficult; and
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(f)any other matter or circumstance which would materially hamper the Force in the discharge of its duties in the event of fire;
“fire hazard abatement notice” means a notice in writing issued by the Commissioner under section 13(1);
“fire protection system” includes any installation, equipment or works manufactured, used or designed to be used for the purposes of —
(a)extinguishing, attacking, preventing or limiting a fire and its by-product; or
(b)giving warning of a fire;
“fire protection works” means the provision, extension or alteration of any fire protection system;
“fire safety measures” includes any installation, equipment or works manufactured, used or designed to be used for the purposes of —
(a)extinguishing, attacking, preventing or limiting a fire and controlling the spread of smoke resulting from the fire;
(b)giving warning of a fire;
(c)providing access to any premises or place for the purpose of extinguishing, attacking, preventing or limiting a fire; or
(d)providing means of escape;
“fire safety works” means any fire protection works, fire safety measures or minor works;
“Force” has the same meaning as in the Civil Defence Act (Cap. 42);
“member” has the same meaning as in the Civil Defence Act and includes any public officer serving in the Force as engineering or technical staff;
“minor works” means —
(a)the addition, alteration or repair of a building that involves the use of combustible materials or that affects the means of escape or the effectiveness of fire safety measures; or
(b)the provision, extension or alteration of any air-conditioning service, ventilating system in or in connection with a building;
“occupier”, in relation to any premises, means the person in occupation of any premises or having the charge, management or control thereof and, in relation to any part of any premises different parts of which are occupied by different persons, means the person in occupation or having the charge, management or control of that part;
“officer” has the same meaning as in the Civil Defence Act (Cap. 42) and includes any public officer serving in the Force as engineering or technical officer;
“owner”  —
(a)in relation to any premises, includes any mortgagee in possession and any person for the time being receiving the rent of the premises whether on his own account or as agent or trustee or as receiver, or who would receive the same if the premises were let to a tenant, and any person whose name is entered in the Valuation List authenticated under section 15 of the Property Tax Act (Cap. 254) as the owner of the premises;
(b)in relation to the common property of any building erected on land comprised in a strata subdivision plan approved by the competent authority, means the management corporation having control of the building;
(c)in respect of any fire safety measure, includes the occupier or the owner of the premises in or on which the fire safety measure is installed or kept;
“place of public resort” means a building or a defined or enclosed place used or constructed or adapted to be used ordinarily or occasionally —
(a)as a church, chapel, mosque, temple or other place where public worship is or religious ceremonies are performed, not being merely a dwelling-house so used;
(b)as a cinema, theatre, public hall, public concert room, public ballroom, public lecture room, or public exhibition room, club, association, restaurant, hotel, coffee house, eating house or milk bar;
(c)as a public place of assembly for persons admitted thereto by ticket or otherwise; or
(d)for any other public purpose;
“premises” includes messuages, houses, buildings, lands, tenements, easements and hereditaments of any tenure, whether open or enclosed, whether built or not, whether public or private, and whether or not maintained under statutory authority;
“public building” means a building or part thereof used or constructed or adapted to be used as a shop, office, hospital or place of public resort, not being a church, chapel, mosque, temple or other place where public worship is or religious ceremonies are performed;
“qualified person” means a person who is registered as —
(a)an architect under the Architects Act (Cap. 12) and has in force a practising certificate issued under that Act; or
(b)a professional engineer under the Professional Engineers Act (Cap. 253) and has in force a practising certificate issued under that Act;
“register of registered inspectors” means the register kept and maintained under section 4(1);
“registered inspector” means a person who is registered as a registered inspector under section 5;
“street” has the same meaning as in the Street Works Act (Cap. 320A).
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(2)  In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, any reference to a building includes a reference to a part of a building.
Authorised officers
3.—(1)  The powers conferred and the duties imposed on the Commissioner under this Act and any regulations made thereunder may be exercised and carried out by any of the following persons generally or specially authorised by name or office by the Commissioner and subject to his directions:
(a)any member of the Singapore Civil Defence Force; or
(b)any qualified person in the employment of the Government.
(2)  Subject to the directions of the Commissioner, the powers conferred and the duties imposed on the Commissioner under the provisions of Part IV relating to the approving of plans of fire safety works and any regulations made under this Act necessary for carrying out or giving effect to those provisions may also be exercised and carried out by any qualified person who is —
(a)in the employment of the Housing and Development Board, the Jurong Town Corporation or such other public authority constituted by any written law as the Minister may approve for the purpose; and
(b)generally or specially authorised by name or office by the Commissioner.
(3)  The Commissioner may authorise any qualified person in writing to carry out the duties and responsibilities or exercise all or any of the powers of the Commissioner under this Act or any regulations made thereunder, subject to subsection (4) and such conditions or limitations as the Commissioner may specify.
(4)  The duties, responsibilities and powers which the Commissioner may authorise any qualified person to carry out or exercise under subsection (3) shall be such as may be approved by the Minister in writing.
(5)  Any qualified person who is generally or specially authorised under subsection (2) or (3) to carry out the duties and responsibilities or exercise all or any of the powers of the Commissioner under this Act or any regulations made thereunder shall be deemed to be —
(a)a public officer for the purposes of this Act; and
(b)a public servant for the purposes of the Penal Code (Cap. 224).
Register of registered inspectors
4.—(1)  The Commissioner shall keep and maintain a register in which shall be entered the names and prescribed particulars of all persons registered under section 5 as registered inspectors.
(2)  The register of registered inspectors shall be kept and maintained at the office of the Commissioner and shall be available for inspection by any person without charge at such time as that office is open for business.
Registration of registered inspectors
5.—(1)  An application for registration as a registered inspector shall be made in such manner and shall be accompanied by such documents and particulars as may be prescribed.
(2)  No person shall be registered as a registered inspector unless he can satisfy the Commissioner that he possesses the prescribed qualifications and practical experience.
(3)  Without prejudice to subsection (2), the Commissioner may refuse to register as a registered inspector an applicant who, in his opinion, is not of good character and reputation or unable to carry out the duties and responsibilities of a registered inspector under this Act or any regulations made thereunder.
(4)  The Commissioner may appoint a committee of persons to assist him in considering applications for registration as registered inspectors.
(5)  Where the Commissioner has registered a person as a registered inspector, the Commissioner shall issue to the person a certificate of registration.
Cancellation of registration and suspension from practice
5A.—(1)  Without prejudice to section 6C(7), the Commissioner may by order cancel the registration of any registered inspector or suspend him from practice for a period not exceeding 12 months under any of the following circumstances:
(a)if he is deceased;
(b)if he has contravened or failed to comply with section 6(1);
(c)if he is convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty or an offence under this Act or any regulations made thereunder;
(d)if it appears to the Commissioner that he is no longer in the position to carry out the duties or responsibilities of a registered inspector under this Act or any regulations made thereunder;
(e)if he has procured his registration by fraud or misrepresentation.
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(2)  The Commissioner may, if he considers that no cause of sufficient gravity for cancellation of registration or suspension from practice exists, by writing censure the registered inspector.
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(3)  The Commissioner shall not exercise his powers under subsection (1)(b), (c), (d) or (e)or (2) unless an opportunity of being heard has been given to the registered inspector against whom the Commissioner intends to exercise his powers.
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(4)  Where a registered inspector has been suspended from practice under subsection (1), the Commissioner shall, within one month of the expiry of such suspension, restore the name and particulars of that registered inspector to the register of registered inspectors and issue to him a fresh certificate of registration.
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(5)  Any person whose application for registration as a registered inspector is refused, or who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Commissioner under subsection (1), may, within 14 days of being notified in writing of the refusal or the decision, appeal to the Minister whose decision shall be final.
(6)  Where an appeal is made to the Minister within the period referred to in subsection (5), an order made by the Commissioner under subsection (1) shall, unless the Minister otherwise directs, not take effect unless —
(a)it is confirmed by the Minister;
(b)the appeal is for any reason dismissed by the Minister; or
(c)the appellant withdraws the appeal.
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(7)  Before the Minister makes a decision to allow or dismiss an appeal, the Minister may refer the matter to an Appeal Advisory Board appointed under section 28.
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(8)  The Minister may, in making his decision, have regard to any report made to him by the Appeal Advisory Board.
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(9)  Where an order made by the Commissioner to cancel the registration of a registered inspector or suspend the registered inspector from practice has taken effect, the Commissioner shall —
(a)remove the name and particulars of the inspector concerned from the register of registered inspectors;
(b)cancel any certificate of registration issued to the inspector concerned under section 5(5); and
(c)notify the inspector concerned accordingly.
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(10)  The inspector concerned shall, within 14 days of being notified of the removal of his name and particulars from the register of registered inspectors, surrender to the Commissioner the certificate of registration issued to him.
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(11)  Any person who fails to comply with subsection (10) shall be guilty of an offence.
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(12)  Any person whose name has been removed from the register of registered inspectors under subsection (1)(b), (c), (d)or (e) shall, if his appeal to the Minister is allowed, have his name reinstated forthwith.
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Independence of registered inspectors
6.—(1)  At the time of carrying out the duties and responsibilities or exercising all or any of the powers of the Commissioner under this Act or any regulations made thereunder as may be authorised by the Commissioner under section 3(3) or any regulations made under this Act, a registered inspector shall have no professional or financial interest in the building or any part thereof or in the building or fire safety works in respect of which the duties and responsibilities or powers are to be carried out or exercised.
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(2)  A registered inspector shall be regarded as having a professional or financial interest in the building or any part thereof or in the building or fire safety works if —
(a)he is or has been responsible for or acting as consultant to the design or construction of the building or any of the fire safety works in any capacity;
(b)he or any nominee of his is a member, officer or employee of a company or other body which has a professional or financial interest in the building or any part thereof or in the building or fire safety works; or
(c)he is a partner or is in the employment of a person who has a professional or financial interest in the building or any part thereof or in the building or fire safety works.
(3)  For the purposes of this Act —
(a)a person shall be treated as having a professional or financial interest in the building or any part thereof or in the building or fire safety works even if he has that interest only as trustee for the benefit of some other person; and
(b)in the case of a husband and wife living together, the interest of one spouse shall, if known to the other, be deemed to be also an interest of the other.
(4)  For the purposes of this Act —
(a)involvement in the fire safety works as a registered inspector; and
(b)entitlement to any fee paid for his function as a registered inspector,
shall not be regarded as constituting a professional or financial interest.
(5)  In this section, “fire safety works” means fire protection works, minor works and the installation of fire safety measures in building works.
(6)  Any person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence.
Appointment of Inquiry Panel, etc.
6A.—(1)  For the purpose of enabling an Inquiry Committee to be constituted in accordance with this section, the Commissionershall appoint a panel (referred to as the Inquiry Panel) consisting of such numbers of —
(a)qualified persons who are not members of the Force; and
(b)members of the Force,
as the Commissioner may determine.
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(2)  A member of the Inquiry Panel shall be appointed for a term of 2 years and shall be eligible for reappointment.
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(3)  Where any complaint against a registered inspector relating to his conduct or the discharge of his duties or responsibilities is received by the Commissioner, the Commissioner may constitute an Inquiry Committee consisting of 5 members of the Inquiry Panel, for the purposes of inquiring into the complaint.
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(4)  An Inquiry Committee shall consist of —
(a)a Chairman appointed by the Commissioner;
(b)2 qualified persons who are not members of the Force; and
(c)2 members of the Force.
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(5)  The Commissioner may, on his own motion, constitute an Inquiry Committee for the purposes of inquiring into the conduct of any registered inspector or the discharge of a registered inspector’s duties or responsibilities if it appears to the Commissioner that the registered inspector has contravened or failed to comply with any provision of the prescribed code of professional conduct and ethics.
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(6)  The Chairman of an Inquiry Committee shall preside at every meeting of the Inquiry Committee.
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(7)  In the absence of the Chairman of an Inquiry Committee, the Commissioner shall appoint an acting Chairman who shall have and exercise all the powers of the Chairman.
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(8)  The Commissioner may at any time remove any member of an Inquiry Committee or fill any vacancy in its membership.
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[5/2000]
Proceedings of Inquiry Committee
6B.—(1)  An Inquiry Committee may meet for the purposes of its inquiry, adjourn and otherwise regulate the conduct of its inquiry as the members may think fit.
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(2)  The Chairman of an Inquiry Committee may at any time summon a meeting of the Inquiry Committee.
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(3)  All the members of an Inquiry Committee shall be present to constitute a quorum for a meeting of the Inquiry Committee.
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(4)  Any decision to be made at any meeting of the Inquiry Committee shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members of the Inquiry Committee and, in the case of an equality of votes, the Chairman of the Inquiry Committee shall have a second or casting vote.
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(5)  A member of an Inquiry Committee shall, notwithstanding that he has ceased to be a member of the Inquiry Panel on the expiry of his term of office, be deemed to be a member of the Inquiry Panel until such time as the Commissioner has decided that the Inquiry Committee of which he is a member has completed its work.
[5/2000]
Commencement of inquiry, etc.
6C.—(1)  An Inquiry Committee shall, within a reasonable time of its constitution, commence its inquiry and, subject to subsection (2), submit a written report of its findings (referred to in this section as the written report) to the Commissioner not later than 6 months after its constitution.
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(2)  The Commissioner may grant an extension of time to an Inquiry Committee to submit the written report to him if he is satisfied that the circumstances of the case justify the grant of an extension of time.
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(3)  Subject to the provisions of this Act and any regulations made thereunder, the Inquiry Committee may determine its own procedure.
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(4)  Where an Inquiry Committee is of the opinion that a registered inspector should be called upon to answer any allegation made against him, the Inquiry Committee shall —
(a)post or deliver to the registered inspector concerned —
(i)copies of any complaint made against him; and
(ii)a notice inviting him to give, within such period (not being less than 14 days) as may be specified in the notice, to the Inquiry Committee any written explanation he may wish to offer and to advise the Inquiry Committee if he wishes to be heard by the Committee;
(b)allow the time specified in the notice to elapse;
(c)give the registered inspector concerned reasonable opportunity to be heard if he so desires; and
(d)give due consideration to any explanation (if any) given by the registered inspector concerned.
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(5)  Where a complainant withdraws his complaint before —
(a)the Commissioner has constituted an Inquiry Committee to inquire into the complaint; or
(b)the conclusion of the inquiry by an Inquiry Committee,
the Commissioner may, notwithstanding such withdrawal, refer the complaint to or direct an Inquiry Committee to continue the inquiry, as the case may be, and the Inquiry Committee shall comply with the direction and all future proceedings thereon shall be taken as if the complaint had been made by the Commissioner.
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(6)  An Inquiry Committee shall, in its written report, make such recommendation as it thinks fit.
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(7)  The Commissioner shall consider the written report submitted by an Inquiry Committee and may —
(a)dismiss the complaint;
(b)by order cancel the registration of the registered inspector concerned;
(c)by order suspend the registered inspector concerned from practice for a period not exceeding 12 months;
(d)by order impose a penalty not exceeding $5,000;
(e)in writing censure the registered inspector concerned; or
(f)make such other order as the Commissioner thinks fit.
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(8)  The Commissioner shall not be bound by any recommendation made by an Inquiry Committee in its written report.
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(9)  The Commissioner shall in writing notify the registered inspector concerned of his decision or any order made against the registered inspector concerned under subsection (7).
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(10)  A registered inspector who is aggrieved by a decision of or an order made by the Commissioner under subsection (7)(b), (c), (d) or (f) may, within 14 days of the receipt of the written notification, appeal to the Minister whose decision shall be final.
[5/2000]
(11)  Where an appeal is made to the Minister within the period referred to in subsection (10), the decision of or an order made by the Commissioner under subsection (7)(b), (c), (d) or (f), as the case may be, shall, unless the Minister otherwise directs, not take effect unless —
(a)it is confirmed by the Minister;
(b)the appeal is for any reason dismissed by the Minister; or
(c)the appellant withdraws the appeal.
[5/2000]
(12)  Before the Minister makes a decision to allow or dismiss an appeal, the Minister may refer the matter to an Appeal Advisory Board appointed under section 28.
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(13)  The Minister may, in making his decision, have regard to any report made to him by the Appeal Advisory Board.
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(14)  Any penalty imposed by the Commissioner in exercise of the powers conferred by subsection (7) shall be recoverable as a judgment debt from the registered inspector ordered to pay the penalty.
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Powers of Inquiry Committee
6D.—(1)  For the purposes of any inquiry conducted by an Inquiry Committee, the Inquiry Committee may —
(a)require evidence to be given on oath and for that purpose the Chairman of the Inquiry Committee may administer an oath; and
(b)require any person to attend and give evidence before it and to produce all plans, books, documents and papers in the custody of that person or under his control relating to the subject-matter of the inquiry.
[5/2000]
(2)  Every person who, without lawful excuse, refuses or fails to —
(a)attend and give evidence when required to do so by the Inquiry Committee;
(b)answer truly and fully any question put to him by a member of the Inquiry Committee; or
(c)produce to the Inquiry Committee any plans, book, document or paper required to be produced by him,
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000.
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(3)  For the purposes of conducting an inquiry, an Inquiry Committee may appoint any person to make or assist in the making of whatever preliminary inquiries it thinks necessary.
[5/2000]
Powers in event of fire
7.—(1)  The Commissioner or any officer authorised by him may, in the event of a fire or a suspected fire, by himself or with other members under his command —
(a)enter, break into or through and take possession of or demolish or cause to be taken possession of or demolished any premises or thing for the purpose of extinguishing or preventing the spread of the fire;
(b)take any equipment required to be used into, through or upon any premises where he thinks it necessary for the purpose of carrying out his duties;
(c)remove from any building or structure which is on fire or is in the vicinity of the fire, any flammable, combustible, explosive or dangerous material found therein without responsibility for any consequent loss or damage;
(d)for the purpose of extinguishing or preventing the spread of the fire, cause any building or structure which is on fire, or which is adjacent to or in the vicinity of any building or structure which is on fire, to be pulled down, either wholly or partially, or otherwise destroyed or damaged;
(e)cause water to be shut off from, or turned into, any main or pipe in order to obtain a greater pressure and supply of water for the purpose of extinguishing the fire in consultation with the Public Utilities Board;
(f)shut off or disconnect, or order any person having the control thereof to shut off or disconnect, the supply of gas, fuel oil or electricity to any premises which is on fire or which is in the vicinity of the fire;
(g)close or cause to be closed any street in the vicinity of the fire or calamity;
(h)remove any vehicle impeding the operation of the Force and, where reasonably necessary for that purpose, he may use force or break into any such vehicle;
(i)remove, using reasonable force if necessary, any person who, by his presence or otherwise, interferes with the fire-fighting operations or who is, in his opinion, endangered by the fire;
(j)control and direct all operations for the extinguishing of the fire and all fire services present and all persons there who place their services at his disposal;
(k)use any convenient supply of water; and
(l)generally do all other things that are reasonably necessary for protecting life or property or for extinguishing the fire or for preventing the spread thereof.
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(2)  No person or body (including the Government) shall be liable to any action, penalty or claim by reason of any action under subsection (1)(f).
General powers of entry
8.—(1)  Subject to this section, the Commissioner or any member of the Force authorised by him in writing on producing, if so required, an authenticated document showing his authority shall have a right to enter any premises at all reasonable hours for the purpose of —
(a)ascertaining whether there is or has been, on or in connection with the premises, any contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or any regulations made thereunder;
(b)obtaining information required for fire-fighting purposes with respect to the character of the premises, the availability of water supplies and the means of access thereto and other material circumstances relating to fire-fighting purposes;
(c)conducting fire-drills and exercises, provided prior reasonable notice in writing is given to the owner or occupier of such premises;
(d)ascertaining whether there exists in the premises any fire hazard;
(e)determining the cause or causes of any fire which has occurred in such premises;
(f)ascertaining whether or not any place of public assembly or premises used for purposes of entertainment or recreation are being used to accommodate a larger number of persons than is permitted under any regulations made under this Act;
(g)checking and testing fire safety measures; and
(h)performance by the Commissioner or the Force of his or its powers under this or any other written law.
(2)  The Commissioner or any person authorised by him in writing shall not exercise the right of entry conferred by this section in respect of such premises as are not a place of public entertainment or public assembly, factory, workshop or workplace nor premises otherwise used for business purposes, unless 24 hours’ notice in writing of the intended entry has been given to the occupier.
Power to fix plate showing position of fire-hydrant
9.—(1)  Upon giving 7 days’ notice in writing to the owner or occupier of any property situate in the vicinity of a fire-hydrant or water supply, the Commissioner may thereafter cause a plate indicating the location of such fire-hydrant or water supply to be fixed to any part of the property as may, in the opinion of the Commissioner, be best suited to indicate such location.
(2)  Any person who refuses to allow the fixing of any such plate referred to in subsection (1), or obstructs any person in the course of the fixing thereof or removes or defaces any such plate after it has been so fixed shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000.
Power to install fire-hydrants
10.  The Commissioner may place or cause to be placed fire-hydrants as he may think necessary at convenient places in streets or roads.
Damaging, etc., of fire-hydrants
11.—(1)  Any person who —
(a)not being a member of the Force takes water from a fire-hydrant other than for the extinguishment of a fire without the consent of the Commissioner or the Public Utilities Board, as the case may be; or
(b)wilfully damages a fire-hydrant,
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000.
(2)  Any person convicted of an offence under subsection (1)(b) shall, in addition to the fine imposed on him under that subsection, also be liable to pay compensation to the Public Utilities Board for any expenses reasonably incurred in repairing or replacing such fire-hydrant.
False alarm
12.—(1)  Any person who knowingly gives or causes to be given a false alarm of fire to the Force or to the police shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to both.
(2)  For the purposes of this section, “false alarm of fire” includes a false call for the ambulance or other services provided by the Force.