The bright red truck, yellow hard hat, black boots, not to mention the fire suits and smoke masks – haven’t we all had that fantasy play. Being a fire fighter had been an alluring prospective career as a child . Playground imaginary play included sliding down the pole crying out – ” Fire fighter to the rescue ! “.
Kavin has been quite familiar with the whole fire fighting thing thanks to our neighborhood walks, when almost every time he stops at the fire hydrants and starts to animatedly explain the purpose of their existence . These encounters, toy fire trucks at play areas, Tayo the bus fire fighting episodes – all seemed to have kindled enough interest in him. Two weeks ago he built a lego fire truck ( or at least that is what he called it ) . Childhood memories came flooding back . I remember Amma and Appa taking me and my brother to a fire station cum museum . I can never forget that trip mostly because I came sliding down the fire pole in shorts, which resulted in scalding the flesh on my inner thigh. I couldn’t walk for the next two days. 🙂
Fingers crossed, hoping Singapore would have some kind of fire station visit, I turned to Google. I was pleasantly surprised with the Singapore Civil Defense Force ( SCDF) website.
There were fire station open houses every Saturday . The visitation is very straight forward .
- Every Saturday 9 – 11 is open house at all fire stations island wide except (
- Banyan Fire Station
- Jurong Island Fire Station
- Tuas Fire Station
- Tuas View Fire Station
- West Coast Marine Fire Station
- Brani Marine Fire Station
- Sentosa Fire Station )
- Group visitation with 10 members or more requires 2 week advance registration
- Groups less than 10 can walk – in . NO pre registration required
- It is open to all Singapore residents( citizen, PR, foreigner) , tourists included
- It’s Free
We chose to visit the Central Fire Station, mainly because of the allure of the red brick building. I’ll be honest, there is a lot of information on the SDFC website – I was a bit confused about the different exhibits they were talking about . We went in expecting to see the fire station,but we were surprised with a few other experiences . So to be clear, there are 4 different things you get to do at the Central Fire Station . This is ONLY at the Central Fire Station, all other fire stations just have the Saturday ( 9 AM – 11 AM) open house session .
Here you go Fire Station Attractions as explained by the SDFC website . I mention this link here, because first time round, I never navigated to this page. We got to see only the Emergency Preparedness Center , Fire Station and The Heritage Gallery. The Tower is accessible only on Tuesdays and Fridays ( 7 PM – 8 PM ) , and children below 1.2 m are not allowed .
Okay , now to get thing straight :
- Island wide Fire Station Open houses – Saturday ( 9 AM – 11 AM )
- Emergency Preparedness Center – (Tuesday – Friday) ( 10 AM – 5 AM )
- Heritage Gallery – ( Tuesday – Friday) ( 10 AM – 5 AM )
- Tower tour – ( Tuesday & Friday) ( 7 PM – 8 PM )
Note : 2, 3 4 are specific to Central Fire Station
Finally ! Now that the necessities are over, lets get to the niceties.
The fire fighting demonstration starts on the dot, at 9:00. We missed it . We arrived jut as the crowd was dispersing to see the fire trucks . We did however get full access to see all the fire station vehicles. Kavin’s excitement picked up when a friendly fire fighter handed him a toy plastic helmet . These are free, but be sure to go early, because they are given only till stocks last !
Bright red fire trucks stood majestically side by side, the fire station also housed smaller fire vans, trucks and even an ambulance . The kids are allowed to hop into the trucks and play fireman. One toddler even managed to pry open the radio pocket, and started hollering messages through the big speakers !
Along the sides of the truck shelter, caged lockers are packed with – helmets, fireproof suits, boots, smoke masks and gloves. All the Fire fighters were sporting friendly grins, and answered all our questions . They were down on their knees explaining a smoke mask to Kavin, another was talking about the hose. Some of them were helping the kids on and off the fire truck . One observation – the majority of the kids who had come to see the station were between 2-4 years . I am guessing, older kids have already had a field trip to the station or younger kids are that much more curious about the world.
After about half an hour of role play, just as I thought Kavin might get bored ( Who am I kidding ? Boys never get bored of trucks, at least this one doesn’t !) , we were in for a treat, the iconic – ‘Fireman down the pole’ demonstration was going to be repeated . I was a bit shocked by the size of the pole though, I mean with the recent exposure to pole dancing, I was imagining something like that . The pole was… as Kavin pointed out ‘ Water Spout ‘ . Yes ! It was as thick as Incy Wincy Spider’s water spout . The routine was done in style by three firemen in coordination . The kids get to yell ” Fire ! Fire ! “, from below, and they come zipping down thee floors of pole with elan . The was even a midway acrobatics, by stopping at different levels along the pole, entwined only by their legs . Clearly these men are not missing their ‘leg day’ at the gym . The kids loved this part, the crew even repeated the performance to please the eager toddler faces. One of the fire men, explained how, once they received a call, the entire crew would have to be down by 3 seconds.
We then took notice of a few other things at the station . An in house petrol pump ( for some reason this impressed my husband ), an outdoor shower – much like the swimming pool shower, except you pulled on a lever to release water . We had fun taking some pictures with these amazing life savers, and then proceeded to the The Heritage Gallery . (The Heritage Gallery and Emergency Preparedness Center are housed in the same building, different floors ) .
The Heritage Gallery has a lovely collection of vintage fire rescue vehicles used from the British Era . Other rescue related antiques, collector toy fire trucks, and medals given to the Singapore fire station adorn the walls. We even found some vintage fire helmets donated by ex – fireman from different countries . Kavin was excited by the ‘firetruck movie’, he clambered into one of the firetrucks on display, were a short video about a Singapore rescue mission is playing . But the most spectacular display, was the recreation of the “Bukit Ho Swee Fire ” of 1961. The plaques read the history of the fire, and the space has been recreated like a burnt down home . We were amused to find, a Milo can on the kitchen shelf ( astonished by the detailing ) and thatch roofs. Did you know the HDB model that exists in Singapore, is the direct result of the fire, and the damage it did to the unstructured illegal housing establishments ? We spent about 30 minutes here, before we stepped into the emergency preparedness center (EPC).
Most of the interactive displays at the EPC seem more age appropriate for older kids who can read . Nevertheless, if you take an effort to guide them through it, there is much to observe and learn. An ambulance scene, an interactive fire fighting, a pencil sketch corner ( Take your own crayons – the pencils are blunt ) – definitely a place to take kids.
I particularly enjoyed the tribute to one of Singapore’s most brilliant rescue dogs, who has apparently been all over the world on rescue missions. The exit leads us to a rather tiny souvenir shop, which sells fire station toys, which is unsurprisingly overpriced, so characteristic of Singapore .
Do not miss to snap pictures in front of the red building, and with the firemen statue !