SINGAPORE'S CENTRAL FIRE STATION: A CENTURY-OLD ARCHITECTURAL GEM
After 100 years of faithful service, Singapore's Central Fire Station retains its original red-and-white Edwardian exterior and continues to provide fire fighting, ambulance and rescue coverage for the central district.
Throughout the 19th century, the island was not spared from the destruction of fire which frequent serious fires caused massive destruction of property and many deaths. The Singapore Fire brigade was established in 1888, and three stations were eventually built, including the Central Fire Station.
By 1909, it had been rebuilt to include garage space for the first motorised fire engines, staff quarters, a training yard and a watch tower, which was the tallest structure in Singapore between 1909 and 1930 and acted as a lookout point for fires. The improved equipment and an increase in the staff led to a substantial decrease in the number and scale of fires in the crowded town area.
The building is distinguished by a facade of exposed red bricks and white plaster bands, a style popular in the United Kingdom during the Edwardian period. The Station features red doors of different widths: the narrow doors were for horse-drawn fire engines, while the wider ones were for bigger motorised vehicles.
During World War II, the Central Fire Station received several direct hits from Japanese bombs but survived. In 1998, it was gazetted as a national monument. In 2001, the oldest part of the building was converted into the Civil Defence Gallery, costing almost S$3 million to set up. It showcases the history of fire-sighting and civil defence in Singapore from the late 1800s till modern days. The Gallery's highlight is a tour up to the 30-m high Lookout Tower.