Singapore Fire Brigade

Singapore Infopedia

by Tan, Bonny


Singapore’s first firefighters formed a brigade in 1869, which was officially recognised as the Singapore Fire Brigade in 1888.1 The current firefighting force is known as the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).2

Although a Fire Committee was formed on 20 December 1855, the first fire brigade was not established until 10 April 1869. Prior to this, fires were attended to by uniformed groups which included the police, sepoys, marine soldiers and even convicts. The Fire Ordinance was enacted on 7 September 1869, and Governor Harry St George appointed the colonial engineer to head the Fire Commission for Singapore. The first members of this voluntary Fire Brigade included notable estate owners such as W. H. Read, Thomas Scott, R. MacPherson, W. Maxwell and C. Dunlop. Poor organisation under difficult circumstances plagued this voluntary Fire Brigade until its demise in 1884. In 1888, the Singapore Fire Brigade was established and, with sufficient funding, gained recognition as a fully equipped professional brigade.3

By 1909, there were a total of three built stations servicing Singapore: Central Fire Station on Hill Street, and the fire stations on Cross Street and in Kallang. In 1980, the Singapore Fire Service (SFS) became the official name for the brigade.4 Today’s Singapore Civil Defence Force was formed in April 1989 with the merger of two services, the Fire Service and the Civil Defence Force.5


Bonny Tan

1. Hon, J. (1988). 100 years of the Singapore Fire Service. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 9, 15. (Call no.: RSING 363.378095957 HON)
2. Singapore Civil Defence Force. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved 2016, August 10 from Singapore Civil Defence Force website:
3. Hon, J. (1988). 100 years of the Singapore Fire Service. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 2, 8–9, 11–12, 15–18. (Call no.: RSING 363.378095957 HON)
4. Hon, J. (1988). 100 years of the Singapore Fire Service. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 24, 103. (Call no.: RSING 363.378095957 HON)
5. Singapore Civil Defence Force. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved 2016, August 10 from Singapore Civil Defence Force website:

The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


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