“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Pose that question to a group of kids and chances are, there’ll be a little boy or two (who may or may not have a plastic fire helmet on) who’ll yell “FIREMAN!!”
It’s super cool that all the Singapore Civil Defence Force has allowed all fire stations in Singapore (except the one on Jurong Island) to open for public visits every Saturday for free. Visits vary from station to station, but no booking is necessary (unless you’re intending to visit with a big group, then in that case, you’ll have to submit a formal request beforehand. Otherwise, feel free to walk in any time between 9am and 11am.
The Central Fire Station at Hill Street probably has the most structured programme but at the others that we have visited, it was pretty much free and easy, and you may or may not have an assigned guide, but if you have a burning question (pun intended), feel free to ask anyone in a uniform.
There’s the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery right next to the Central Fire Station so if that’s where you head, then do make some time to check it out after your fire station visit. Else, it’s worth a visit on its own as well (also, it’s free).
We prefer visiting the neighbourhood fire stations though; with a smaller crowd, the kids can have more time checking out the fire trucks or trying out the water hoses. The vibe is also a lot more chill.
Generally, you’re allowed to climb into the fire engines and Red Rhinos, try your hand at the hoses, visit the command centre, go into the cherry picker (but probably not go up, for safety reasons), and the kids will get a plastic fire helmet. You may or may not get to see a demonstration of extinguishing a fire with a fire extinguisher, time a firefighter getting dressed in his safety gear, and witness emergency vehicles dashing off to real-life emergencies.
I’ve lost track on the number of times we’ve been to a fire station, but there’s something new to learn each time. The 7-year old is very impressed to learn that firefighters have one minute to get from wherever they are in the fire station, into the fire truck. One minute.
And they give themselves 8 minutes to reach their destination. Eight! So folks, if you’re on the roads and a fire truck comes your way, let it pass won’t you? It’s on a tight schedule!
If you happen to visit Alexandra Fire Station, there are lots of food options around to refuel after your visit – IKEA, Alexandra Village Food Centre, ABC Brickworks, Anchorpoint, and right next door, Queensway Shopping Centre. Along the perimeter of Alexandra Hospital, near the bus stop, your kids may be interested to know that there are lots of saga seeds to be found in the grass, and here is where you’ll find your fire helmet useful.
Find out where your nearest fire station is here for your next visit. The next time a Red Rhino drives by, remember to wave to your neighbourhood firefighters!
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