SingTel fire safety inadequacies found

Fiona Chau
telecomasia.net
An internal investigation into a blaze at SingTel’s Bukit Panjang exchange calls for immediate action on fire safety practices by the telco.
 
Bobby Chin, chairman of the Board Committee of Inquiry (BCOI), said the inquiry found the main cause of the fire was human error, but also “uncovered shortcomings in fire safety practices that require immediate rectification,” in a statement released Monday.
 
The independent committee was set up a week after the fire and tasked to recommend improvements to the SingTel board. Fire safety inadequacies highlighted by the report include a lack of sprinklers in a cable chamber.
 
The latest report confirms preliminary findings from November that the fire was started by a SingTel employee who had used an unauthorized blowtorch during maintenance works, which was twice as hot as the company-issued torch the employee should have used.
 
The BCOI has proposed a slew of measures for the telco to implement. Among them, SingTel must replace all lead-based sealants with alternative materials that do not require heating during maintenance (multi-cable transit systems). The telco said it is already in the process of converting all duct seal installations to MCT Systems, and expects to complete that replacement exercise by the end of next year.
 
A 24-hour fire watch has also been implemented after completion of hot works, instead of the previous half-hour. This will be supplemented by handheld thermal imaging cameras. In the interim, SingTel has also switched to hot air blowers without an open flame instead of blowtorches.

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