- On December 16, 2017
If you think hardworking and trusted plumbers rarely create a disaster made of fire, think again. Last December 15, 2017, a professional plumber pleaded guilty to accidentally activating a flare in a crowded area in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1. Despite the fact that demand for plumbers are on the rise these days, we cannot discount the possibilities of some of them causing accidents inside the customers’ premises.
The plumber, Aw Chong Loong, aged 50, was apprehended immediately by police officers responding to the scene on September 26, 2017. Aw admitted he set off a parachute signal flare towards a hawker centre at Block 226C in the said avenue. The incident required the aid of 65 police officers in a 30-hour operation to effectively resolve the situation.
Yang Ziliang, the Deputy Public Prosecutor assigned to Loong’s case, said there were several notable witnesses who saw the suspect set off the flare. The witness, Tan Yong Joo, said that he saw Aw activate the incendiary device from his fruit stall in the affected area at around 4:30PM. The activation of the flare caused a fire to break out which damaged properties.
Tan added he heard a loud sound when the flare was set off and a ball of fire shot out of it. He also said the ball of fire’s height was around his knees when it shot off from the flare. Tan said he utilized a metal rod to get rid of the fire but failed ultimately. When he failed, Tan said he hid under a table far from the origin point of the fire.
Due to his admission, Aw is being fined $4,500 for his negligence. Fortunately, an unidentified passer-by said no one was hurt by the initial blast from the parachute flare. Although this was the case, the fire quickly spread and caused great damaged to properties in the area. The police then searched 23 blocks in the aforementioned avenue to find the cause of the fire. After 30 hours of continuous operation, the source of fire was located and extinguished afterwards.
The suspect, Aw, said he did not see the exact events leading up to the spread of the fire when he was apprehended. On the other hand, closed-circuit television camera footage has identified him as the likely culprit in this mess. Aw finally admitted he was the one who set off the parachute flare the following day after the incident.
Aw added he was clearing his workplace at the back of a medical hall when he saw a cylindrical item. Aw immediately inspected the said item and accidentally set off. Aw attributed his negligence to the absence of glasses that could have helped him identify the flare.
Aw did not have a lawyer to represent him during the entirety of his trial. He could have faced one year of prison time or the maximum fine of $5,000. Instead, he is fined $500 less of the highest amount possible.
Aw’s experience with a parachute flare teaches everyone to be extra cautious in dealing with unknown items for they can be a cause of remarkable damage. Sure, there are plumbing hacks that even you can do on your own, but this one is very dangerous. The lesson too is not to give one’s negligence a chance to hurt other people or destroy their respective properties. A responsible emergency plumber Singapore knows these things so well that he will never be a threat to any customer. Sadly, Aw learned it the hard way.