Ship fire death: SCDF officer was 30-year-old captain who aced fitness, proficiency tests


SCDF was alerted to the fire at about 12.15am and firefighters from its West Coast Marine Fire Station boarded the tanker, Sheng Hang Hua 6, to conduct firefighting operations. SCDF arrived at the scene at about 1.15am.

When the firefighters arrived, they found smoke coming out of the ship’s engine room, where the fire had broken out.

During the firefighting operation, CPT Tay was with another firefighter in the “smoke-logged” engine room at about 3.30am, said SCDF, adding that they were both wearing personal protective equipment.

“While the firefighter was directing his water jet towards the source of the fire, CPT Kenneth moved around the engine room with a thermal imager to detect other hot spots,” SCDF said.

“Based on body-worn camera footage which was analysed post-incident, at about 3.53am, CPT Kenneth appeared to encounter difficulties.”

After the firefighter who was with CPT Tay noticed that he had not responded to his calls, he tried looking for CPT Tay in the part of the engine room where the firefighting was being carried out.

Another team of firefighters then found CPT Tay lying at the bottom of a staircase at about 4am. The stairs led about 4m down to a lower platform of the engine room from the part of the room where the firefighting operation was being conducted.

“CPT Kenneth was found conscious, but as he appeared unwell, evacuation was immediately initiated. CPT Kenneth subsequently lost consciousness when he was brought out from the engine room to the open deck on a stretcher,” said SCDF.

“Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was performed on him on the open deck, and continued to be performed on him while he was being evacuated by an SCDF fast response marine vessel to Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal.”

An SCDF ambulance that was on standby at the ferry terminal received CPT Tay at about 5.28am and arrived at the National University Hospital at about 5.50am. SCDF added that the ambulance crew continued performing CPR on him while en route to the hospital.

All the 19 crew members of the vessel were safely accounted for in the incident, said SCDF.


In December 2022, a 19-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF) died after a firefighting operation at a Henderson Road flat. 

Sergeant 1 (SGT1) Edward H Go, who was allegedly left alone to fight the fire, suffocated to death after his air cylinder was depleted.

He was the first firefighter to die because of an SCDF operation.

SCDF added: “SCDF officers, like CPT Kenneth, put their lives on the line each time they enter the scene of a fire, in order to save others.”

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