Fascinated with the work of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Mr Rayner Oon decided on the Singapore Government Scholarship (Civil Defence) to further his education.

He says: “The fire-fighting and rescue operations performed by the SCDF locally and overseas left a deep impression on me. I wanted to pick up life-saving skills and be part of an organisation that keeps Singapore safe and secure.”

Armed and ready

Scholarship in hand, he attended Imperial College London in the United Kingdom from 2009 to 2013.

There, he pursued a degree in chemical engineering, having had an inclination towards mathematics and science subjects while doing his pre-university education.

His university choice also stemmed from his desire to live in a bustling and cosmopolitan city like London.

He did return to do a onemonth internship in SCDF during a summer break.

Then, he was attached to the Fire Research Unit where he got to know its various research and forensic capabilities.

Upon his graduation, he started serving his six-year bond with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in the SCDF.

At present, the 28-year-old holds the rank of Captain (Capt) and is the Commander of Tampines Fire Station.

His key responsibilities include ensuring a high state of operational readiness of Tampines Fire Station to provide 24- hour emergency — fire, rescue, medical — services to the Tampines and Pasir Ris areas.

Tampines Fire Station is also one of the six SCDF HazMat fire stations providing islandwide coverage to deal with hazardous materials’ incidents.

He is also activated for complex and large-scale emergency calls where additional commanders are required to manage the incidents.

That was the case for him and his fellow commanders when an inferno engulfed the CK Building at Tampines Street 92 on Aug 17 last year.

All in a days’ work

“I remember I was about to go for lunch when I was activated by the SCDF Operations Centre.

“While travelling along Tampines Ave 1, I could already see plumes of thick black smoke in the distance and I immediately knew that this was a major fire,” says CPT Oon.

When he arrived at the scene, firefighters were already in the thick of action, setting up water jets to fight the fire.

The blaze raged for four-anda- half hours and its plumes of smoke were visible even from Changi Airport.

It resulted in the largest deployment of SCDF resources to fight a fire in an industrial estate in 2016.

Altogether, there were 110 officers and 27 emergency vehicles, including fire engines, support vehicles and ambulances.

At the height of the operation, a total of four aerial appliances were also deployed to battle the blaze.

He says: “In my view, the success of this operation is the sum of SCDF’s high training stand-suffiards, the determination and tenacity of the men and excellent teamwork all round.

“The operational experience gained from attending each incident is immensely valuable to me, where what I learn from each makes me a better leader and commander.”

As Commander of Tampines Fire Station, he is also responsible for overseeing the logistics and administrative service support functions to ensure its smooth operation.

He says: “People-management is among my key tasks as I have around 120 officers under my charge. They look to me for guidance and I’m also responsible for their personal and career development.”

Capt Oon would not hesitate to recommend the MHA scholarship to aspiring scholars because he knows first-hand that the SCDF provides a dynamic and challenging working environment.

“At the same time, the work is fulfilling and rewarding and the guidance I’ve received from my superiors has aided my own growth and development,” he adds.