Central Fire Station @ Hill Street

As one comes to the intersection of Hill Street and Coleman Street, a red and white building comes into view. Nicknamed the “Blood and Bandage” building, it is the oldest fire station in Singapore though not the first.

^ Map location: Central Fire Station @ No.62 Hill Street, Singapore

^ A file photo of the Central Fire Station. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1949)

^ Present day.

Why was it nicknamed as the “Blood and Bandage”? “Blood” refers to the exposed red brick of the building and “Bandage” is brick covered with plaster and painted white. It was a popular style in the early 20th century during the Edwardian England era. Steel bricks were specially imported from Britain. The building consist of firemen’s quarters and a watchtower which acts as a lookout point for fires before fire alarms were installed in 1915.

^ Gazetted as a National Monument on 18 Dec 1998 by the Preservation of Monuments Board.

^ A bit of her history.

^ The Merryweather Steam Fire Engine was the first fully motorized fire engine in Singapore. It was imported from Britain and named “The Broadrick” after Mr Broadrick, the Govenor of Singapore at that time.

^ S.F.B. (Singapore Fire Brigade). (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1953)

^ Known as “The Major Pump Three”, this fire engine had the “open concept” design where firemen stood on platforms attached to both sides of the fire engine while holding on to the side rails as the vehicle travelled along.

^ An improved version of the fire engine saw the introduction of the “Dennis F12 Fire Engine” which came into service of the Singapore Fire Brigade in 1951. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1951). It had a more powerful engine that allows for faster response to arrive at the locality of fire-outbreaks. Its enclosed cab at the front gave protection to the driver and firemen compared to the “Major Pump Three” design.

^ A description of the Dennis F12 Fire Engine.

^ A Dennis F12 Fire Engine on display at the Heritage Gallery.

^ The old method of rescuing trapped people from highrise units. Nowadays, large airbags are used.

^ Walking up the ladder to rescue those trapped on highrise buildings.

^ This was how it was done in the early days of fire rescue. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore)

^ For the older folks, they will remember the Bukit Ho Swee fire. On 25th May 1961, a huge fire razed the village of thatched huts to the ground.

^ Lesson learnt.

^ Villagers in Bukit Ho Swee gathering whatever belongings they can as the fire spread. (Photocredit: National Archives of SIngapore)

^ Huge plume of billowing smoke as the fire consumed everything in its path. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore)

^ The ferocity of the flames. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore)

^ The aftermath.

^ After the fire of Bukit Ho Swee, there was a need to develop safe public housing.

^ In the past, street telephones shown in the photo above were installed to allow the raising of the fire alarm in the event of a fire outbreak that would enable a quick response by the fire brigade.

^ Hand crank siren. A means to raise a fire alarm in the past.

^ Commendation medal.

^ The uniform of the fire bridage in the past.

^ Some of the equipments used in the past…nozzles, helmets, pressurised fire extinguishers.

^ A picture of the late President Benjamin Sheares, the second president of Singapore, inspecting the Singapore Fire Brigade contingent.

^ Developments of fire stations located throughout Singapore.

^ Today, there is a wide range of rescue operations other than just fighting conventional fire. Highrise building rescue is one of them.

^ Modern technological equipments are used in the rescue of people from collapsed buildings just like the Hotel New World disaster on 15 March 1986.

^ When called upon, sniffer dogs are used to locate trapped victims in collapsed buildings and rubble.

^ From humble and modest beginnings, the Singapore Brigade was later developed to what is known today as the SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force) to tackle a wide range of rescue operations – PARAMEDICS, HAZMAT (handling Hazardous Materials), DART (Disaster Assistance Rescue Team), FIRE FIGHTER.

^ Does your home have anything that could be a potential fire hazard? Are you prepared?

^ Souvenirs.

^ Spiral staircase that leads to the watch-tower.

^ The conventional way of raising a fire alarm. Modern buildings nowadays are fitted with emergency notification via the public address system and the “break glass” electronic fire alarm system. The FCC (Fire Command Centre) of buildings are linked to the respective fire stations that allows for an even faster response in the event of an emergency.

^ The unmistakable red and white bricks of Central Fire Station at Hill Street. When the shutter doors of fire station opens and when you hear the sirens…”Give Way To Fire Engine” as the sign says.

^ The Central Fire Station at Hill Street is an operational fire station where a part of it houses the Heritage Gallery. If you have the time, it would be worth a visit. Admission is free. Click on the photo above to view the opening hours of the gallery.

Hope you have enjoyed this blog tour of the Central Fire Station, one of the many heritage buildings in Singapore.


7 Responses to “Central Fire Station @ Hill Street”

  1. Icemoon Says:

    Do firemen really slide down from the pole? I see such a pole in your picture of the spiral staircase.

    I didn’t know they do that until I watched ghostbusters.

  2. ordinary guy Says:

    Hello Icemoon,

    I don’t think you can slide down from the main stem that holds the structure of the spiral staircase seen in the photo. If you are referring to the pole that connects the living quarters upstairs to the ground floor in the fire station inorder for quick response to an emergency, then perhaps there is a pole that links the upper floors of the living quarters to the ground floor.

    Any readers in SCDF who can share some information as to how you move quickly from the upper floors to the ground floor in the fire station?

  3. Zhou Wenhan Says:

    …submitted as a 4 Star review on http://neardeals.com/places/central-fire-station

  4. yg Says:

    yes, they do, at least in the past. as a school-boy i was very impressed by the agility of the firemen as they slid down the pole upon hearing the alarm go off. we were on a school visit to the fire-station and this act was part of a demonstration. the poles were within the building, not outside.

  5. Zorgball Says:

    Thank you for the extraordinary blog about this Fire Station, very interesting and informative!

  6. ordinary guy Says:

    Hi Zorgball, if you have the time, a visit to the Central Fire Station should not be missed.

  7. Jill Russell- Kaur Says:

    My GGStep Uncle Herbert Edward Stevens was Superintendant of the Singapore Fire Brigade 1924 – 1937.
    Have found a little about him, but need to find out more
    Jill Russell-Kaur

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