Tending to mangled bodies in road traffic accidents, putting out blazing fires and saving lives.
These were some of the things Mr Shazni Bin Mohamed Salim, 27, did while he was serving his National Service (NS) with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in 2007.
“It was through my NS experience that I realised the importance of saving lives. As responders, we make a difference between life and death for the people involved,” said Shazni.
He decided to embark on a career as a professional firefighter with ExxonMobil as he wanted to gain more experience in the private sector before signing on with SCDF after completing his studies.
At ExxonMobil, Shazni responds to incidents occurring within the company’s facilities and tries to resolve them before the arrival of SCDF.
He also handles the daily maintenance of firefighting equipment and is the trainer for in-house firefighting courses for technicians and contractors.
Inspired by his NS stint with SCDF and wanting to contribute to society with his firefighting abilities, Shazni made the next step of joining the Civil Defence Auxilliary Unit (CDAU).
“My NS experience was instrumental in motivating me to be a firefighter. After becoming one, I thought I could make myself useful by volunteering with CDAU to serve the public,” he shared.
Shazni is posted to Ang Mo Kio Fire Station and does a minimum of 16 hours each month, working alongside regulars to conduct rescues. “I might only be an auxiliary firefighter, but my duties are similar to those of the regulars. I believe we all play an equally important role,” he said.
The camaraderie among SCDF firefighters and the shared effort put into rescues are reminiscent of his NS days, and they never fail to bring a smile on Shazni’s face.
“SCDF’s culture is very close knit. The team is very united and we watch out for each other. It reminds me of how it was like during NS. It may be exhausting at times but the positive team spirit keeps us going,” said Shazni.
Besides pledging allegiance to SCDF’s mission of protecting and saving lives and property, he also lives by his two favourite quotes—“All men are created equal, then a few become firemen” and “Leave no men behind”.
Shazni recalls a particular fire incident along Rowell Road that took place in 2012.
Tired and hungry from a full day’s work, he was about to tuck into dinner with his fellow firefighters when they were suddenly called to assist in a rescue. Although he was originally assigned to set up a supporting appliance, tables turned at the scene and he had to help put out the raging fire instead.
“In rescue missions, situations can change quickly and we need to be alert and responsive. You quickly forget how hungry and tired you are when you are engrossed with fighting the fire,” said Shazni.
For those who are considering being a CDAU volunteer, Shazni emphasises, “Having a good team spirit and putting others before self are essential qualities to doing this job well. Take the first step and make a difference in the lives of our people.”
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