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Asiaone Fire Extinguisher

On August 10, a gas canister burst and ricocheted from the 23rd story of a skyscraper on Beach road that morning. The projectile smashed through the glass window in the facade of The Gateway Building. 

Read on for an Asiaone news exclusive full report of the incident.

Straits times

The Incident

The projectile may have plummeted downwards and propelled out of the ground floor courtyard crashing into the glass panel of the first story of the adjacent building, The Gateway East. The distance between the two buildings is 50 meters apart. 

The fire extinguisher was believed to be past its expiry date and is subjected to dismantling. These canisters usually have a weight ranging from 10kg to 400kg. The fire extinguishers were allegedly left for a few days near a window, where they may have been exposed to higher temperatures.

According to the statement from the spokesman for Singapore Land Group – which operates The Gateway, which consists of the two buildings – said the incident occurred at about 10.30 am in a vacant unit where a contractor was doing replacement duties.

She said, “Fortunately, no one was hurt, further investigations into the cause of the incident are still ongoing.”

The spokesperson also added that the gas canister belonged to a tenant and that a security staff responded immediately. She also said, “The safety of our tenants and the public remains our priority, and we are working with relevant parties to ensure the well-being of all.”

The Iconic Building

The Gateway is an iconic architectural marvel comprising a 37 story skyscraper complex designed by the late I.M. Pei who was famous for designing the Louvre Pyramid in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

The exemplary skyscraper was completed in 1990, and it is popular due to its trapezoidal form which gives an illusion of being a two-dimensional shape when being viewed at a certain angle.

After the Incident

A gaping hole was visible in the facade of the 23rd floor of the Gateway West building on Tuesday afternoon. The courtyard between the two buildings is blocked off for investigation, the glass facade on the first story of the Gateway East was boarded up with wooden panels.

The canister was a component of an FM200 fire extinguishing system which the occupant hired a contractor to dismantle. These systems are not usually found in typical office spaces but are very common to be used for server rooms.

The system discharges a gaseous fire suppressant that is stored in a liquefied and extremely compressed form in canisters when a fire occurs.

The tenants of The Gateway were issued with a circular about the incident from the management of the building. SCDF said that they were not alerted the day of the incident but an investigation team was sent to the building to check.

Fire Safety Measures and Standards

The portable fire extinguishers were required to pass the standards and regulations, charged, tested, and maintained in full optimal condition according to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) website. The owner or the tenant was advised to inspect the fire extinguishers at least once a month.

According to the SCDF, “The owner or occupant of the premises is responsible for the inspection and maintenance of the fire extinguishers installed in the premises.”

“The maintenance and servicing of portable extinguishers can only be carried out by qualified and trained persons in proper workshops of a certified servicing company.”

Responsibility of the Owners

According to SCDF, the owner is responsible for the inspection of the fire extinguishers if it has no obvious physical damage such as leakage, corrosion, or clogged nozzle. The extinguisher should also be placed visibly in a prominent place for quick accessibility and not hidden or obstructed.

The owners are also responsible for contacting the SCDF for maintenance and servicing of the fire extinguishing systems to make sure that it is compliant under the Singapore Standard, Code of Practice SS 578, Use and Maintenance of Portable Fire Extinguishers.