Illegal foreign worker dormitories lack fire safety measures

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has issued more Notices of Fire Safety Offence last year as more property owners illegally convert their residential and factory spaces into workers’ dormitories, showed SCDF records in the media.

Notably, the notices are issued following enforcement checks by SCDF officers at places such as warehouses and factories. They are issued to building owners who violated fire safety regulations, with offenders facing fines of up to $5,000.

The number of notices issued to those who illegally converted residential properties into workers’ dormitories also jumped from 455 in 2013 to 519 last year.

Additionally, the number of said notices issued to those who have illegally converted factory spaces into foreign worker dormitories soared to 205 in 2014 from 79 in 2014.

The SCDF explained it is dangerous to use factory spaces as workers’ dormitories since the facilities are not equipped with the required fire safety features, such as exit signs and emergency lighting, for workers to evacuate during a fire.

Moreover, residential premises turned into dormitories often lack alternative escape routes during a fire, said the SCDF.

Executive Director of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) Jolovan Wham said, “These premises are not designed to house people in large numbers. Turning them into dorms would be irresponsible especially if large numbers of workers are housed. Workers are packed like sardines into these places.”

Image (by G.dallorto; Wikimedia Commons): File photo of fire 


Muneerah Bee, Senior Journalist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact her about this or other stories email