The female commander of Sentosa Fire Station says rescue work isn’t just about fighting fires – it’s also about empathy
The hazmat suit I once donned for an emergency drill lasted only 10 minutes, but I remember how breathless I felt; how hot and stale the air was inside.
So when Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Jennyline Fan described her rookie training at the Singapore Civil Defence LTC Fan is the commander of Sentosa Fire Station, which opened in 2016 to provide emergency services on the island.
Firefighter training is said to be the toughest of the uniformed organizations, which attracted the 34-year-old to the SCDF.
During her 11-year career as a public servant, LTC Fan found the training to be the toughest.
As part of the training, officers are required to run up to 10 flights of stairs while wearing protective gear and carrying firefighting equipment, which can weigh up to 60 kilograms.
As if you were running a vertical marathon while carrying another person, this is like running a vertical marathon. It is fire retardant so it is very hot. On top of that, we have to wear breathing apparatus, which is extremely heavy. “In addition to the helmet and the additional equipment, there are breaching tools and hoses,” she told me, referring to the tools for breaking through doors.
I could train for the weight-carrying to a certain extent in the gym. Strength and endurance can be increased there.
I didn’t feel comfortable in the suit until after wearing it every day for a couple of months, at the end of the training course.
As we pushed ourselves, we drank water and let our trainers know if we couldn’t take it. But we pushed ourselves as much as we could.
“We would also put on the suit outside of our training time (to become comfortable with it),” said LTC Fan.