Central Fire Station

Singapore, Singapore | C.1908

Photo Credit: Kevin Siyuan

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This regal brick-layered structure has helped put out fires longer than any other station in Singapore. It has claimed the honor as the oldest working fire station in the city-state, and it also houses a museum displaying the history of firefighting in Singapore—of which it has seen quite a lot!

Though Singapore was plagued by fires through the late 19th Century, the fire department at the time was only a loose organization of lightly trained volunteers. It wasn’t until 1888 that the Municipal Commission created the first organized team of firefighters. The first purpose-built station followed soon after, however,  both proved inadequate.

In 1904, professional firefighter Montague William Pett arrived from England and became the superintendent of the Singapore Fire Brigade. He took it upon himself to reorganize the lackluster department by retraining the force, championing the construction of a modern firehouse, and obtaining government funds for the building. 

Architect William Ferguson was tasked with designing Central Fire Station, planning a fanciful structure with a distinctive red-and-white brick facade. Nicknamed “blood and bandage,” the 3-story complex included an engine house, living quarters for the crew, a repair shop, carpentry shop, paint room, training yard, and a lookout tower. Opening  in 1909, the station boasted four portable water pumps and a squad of fully motorized fire trucks, ready to take on any pesky blaze. 

Serving the central business district and Chinatown for over 110 years, the station was granted National Monument Status in 1998 and became home to the Civil Defense Heritage Gallery in 2001 offering exhibits detailing the region’s firefighting story. Still a fully operational fire station, it continues to blaze new chapters in the city’s history, even if the lookout tower has now traded vigilant servicemen for binocular-toting tourists.  

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