The Ever-Present Risk of Fire

Tuesday, Sep 11 2018 04:15 PM

How safe are your valuables — your jewellery, heirlooms, collectibles, art pieces, memorabilia, educational and achievement certificates, etc — at home?

Just last month, a video of an electric scooter in a living room exploding while being charged, engulfing the place in flames, was circulated on social media1. A phone that exploded while it was being charged resulted in the death of a Malaysian CEO and his bed catching fire2. A Personal Mobility Device (PMD) was probably behind another raging fire that consumed the living room and three bedrooms of a maisonette unit in January this year3.

A fire caused by the overnight charging of an electric bicycle injured an infant and three other residents of a HDB block in October 20174. An electric scooter left to charge overnight was responsible for another fire in a HDB flat, causing three people to flee the unit, in July 201765.

The risk of fire is ever present, even in safety-conscious Singapore. We hear it in the news; we read about it on social media.

The number of fire calls the SCDF responded to in 2017 was the lowest recorded in 40 years — but that number was still 3,8716, i.e. an average of 10.6 fires every day! Of these, the number occurring in residential premises was 2,657, a staggering rate of 7.3 residential fires a day.

And the number of fires involving electric scooters jumped almost 350 percent last year6. The main reasons for this appear to be the use of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in most PMDs, according to the SCDF, coupled with overcharging of these batteries.

The insurance industry has a term — High-Impact, Low-Probability — to describe events that are unlikely to happen but that can have devastating consequences. A fire in your home is one such event, and one you can easily take precautions for. Do you still want to keep your valuables at home?


  1. Electric Scooter EXPLODES While Charging!, Aug 2018,
  2. Shrapnel from exploding phone kills Malaysia CEO, June 2018, sg/shrapnel-from-exploding-phone-kills-malaysia-ceo/
  3. “Preliminary investigation findings indicate the cause of fire is of electrical origin, and had originated from a Personal Mobility Device (PMD) which was being charged.”, January 2018,
  4. Infant and three others injured in fire caused by overnight charging of e-bike, Oct 2017,
  5. Electric scooter charging overnight in Choa Chu Kang flat sparks fire, forcing 3 people to flee, Jul 2017,
  6. Number of Fires Involving e-Scooters Spikes Nearly 350%: SCDF, 9 Feb 2018,

Copyright © Vault@268 Pte Ltd   Author: Vinay Kumar Rai