5 Common Reasons For House Fires In Singapore

By Joanne Poh, 06 April 2019 545

Image: Unsplash

Every so often, you catch sight of a news report about yet another fire that’s broken out somewhere in Singapore. There is even a section on the Straits Times’ website dedicated to fires.

In February 2019 alone, fires broke out at St Regis Residences, The Centrepoint Mall and Carlton Hotel, as well as a Yishun flat, Telok Blangah Hawker Centre and a Taoist temple in Tampines.

Returning home to find your abode reduced to ashes is everyone’s worst nightmare. Knowing what causes fires can help you do your part to avoid them, so here are five reasons for house fires in Singapore.

Rubbish chute fires

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It doesn’t sound glamorous, but rubbish fires are actually the leading course of fires in residences. In fact, close to 50% of the residential fires from January to October 2018 were rubbish chute fires.

The rubbish chute system in place in most HDB flats and condos means that any discarded trash tends to remain in very close proximity to residential units, rather than being taken out onto the street a distance from the building.

That means that any flammable waste such as kerosene, paint or unextinguished cigarettes butts could potentially start a fire right at your and your neighbours’ doorstep.

To prevent rubbish chute fires, always dispose of flammable waste in an appropriate and safe manner. For instance, aerosol spray cans containing paint should only be disposed of when they are empty, and then placed in the blue recycling bins rather than the rubbish chute. Cigarettes and ash trays should always be doused with water before disposing of the contents.


Image: iStock

Smoking in the home can not only invite complaints from neighbours about smoke wafting over to their units, it can also become a fire hazard if you’re not careful.

Cigarette butts are a major cause of roadside fires in Singapore, so their ability to wreak havoc should not be underestimated.

Carelessly disposed-of cigarette butts can cause fires in rubbish chutes or elsewhere. Cigarettes can also ignite items in the home such as sofa upholstery or curtains.

Never leave a burning cigarette unattended, even if it is securely wedged between the grooves of an ashtray, and always ensure cigarettes are thoroughly stubbed out before disposing of them. And, of course, it goes without saying that you should never ever toss a cigarette butt out the window.

Kitchen and cooking accidents

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We can’t all be Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen. When you’re cooking, distractions abound, from the kids’ demands to text messages that seem to pop up every second. But not paying attention to the culinary tasks at hand could result in kitchen fires. Forgetting that you had something in the oven could ruin a lot more than just your dinner!

Make sure to always keep an eye on the food while you’re cooking. Whether you’re cooking on the stove, in the oven or even with a device like an air fryer, the potential for unsupervised food to burn/overheat and catch fire is always there. 

Faulty wiring

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Faulty wiring or insulation is a common cause of fires. Households typically use multiple appliances, and over time wires can get damaged. To make matters worse, as the number of devices used per household rises, electrical outlets are having to work harder than ever, with multi-plugs getting overloaded.

Other than inspecting your appliances and plugs, it is advisable to get a periodic inspection conducted on your internal wiring as well as built-in appliances, especially in older homes. Outdated wiring might have to be replaced to cope with the demands of newer appliances.

Personal mobility devices

Electric bicycles and scooters catching fire while being charged at home are an increasingly common occurrence.

One issue is that these are relatively new products that only recently became popular, so the public may not be aware of how to use and charge them safely. In addition, some of these products could be of poor quality and more susceptible to fire-related accidents.

Never leave a charging device unattended or overnight, and ensure that you disconnect the charger once the battery is sufficiently charged, as overcharging can cause fires. Always place your charging batteries on a hard surface such as the floor to allow for the dissipation of heat.

Other General Fire Safety Tips

Every person living in your area has a duty to stay informed on fire safety best practices. Be that as it may, accidents do happen, so it also pays to be prepared no matter what happens. Here are some fire safety tips.

  • Teach fire safety to children and helpers. Everyone at home needs to play a part in keeping the area safe.
  • Be aware of escape routes. Do a dry run with your household so everyone knows where the fire escapes are and how to access them.
  • Keep escape routes and corridors clear. Clutter not only ruins the look of your home, it can also be a fire hazard if it causes obstructions during an emergency.
  • Have a fire blanket or fire extinguisher in the home, and make sure everyone knows where it’s kept and how to use it.


Get The Protection You Need

Protect your property and its contents with home insurance, so you’ll have peace of mind whether you’re relaxing at home or out. Fire insurance, which most HDB owners should have, only covers the building structure, but home insurance is needed to give you the additional protection for your furniture and renovations. With Income’s customisable plans, you can opt to protect just the contents of your home, or the building as well. 

Other benefits include coverage for loss or damage to your helper’s belongings, cost of hotel stays, personal accident for your family, emergency allowance cash and even cash benefit for the loss of your pet. 

Not sure what coverage you need? Speak to a trusted adviser for customised advice today.