SingTel Confirms Unauthorised Blowtorch Caused Network Exchange Fire
Published on: 16th Dec 2013
Singapore's SingTel has released the findings of an investigation into a fire at the Bukit Panjang exchange in October 2013.
The inquiry findings and recommendations covered three main areas: fire prevention in exchanges, network reliability and resiliency, as well as public relations and communications.
Following a full investigation, the inquiry concluded that the most probable cause of the fire was hot works carried out during maintenance activities in the cable chamber. An unauthorised blowtorch was used to heat and shrink a lead-based sealant to seal a cable duct.
The employee carrying out the hot works did not have the company issued blowtorch equipment with him and had borrowed the blowtorch from a contractor, and the flame of the unauthorised blowtorch was almost twice as hot as that of a company issued one. The use of the unauthorised blowtorch most likely caused localised overheating, resulting in a slowburning fire in the cable chamber.
Although the fire lasted just 20 minutes, it took the affected companies up to 80 hours to restore services to customers, although the majority were reconnected within 36 hours. It's estimated that around 60,000 customers were affected.
"While the fire was due mainly to human error, the inquiry uncovered shortcomings in fire safety practices that require immediate rectification," said Chairman of the BCOI, Mr Bobby Chin, "The technical expert has, however, affirmed that the network has a high degree of resiliency. SingTel should continue to build on this."