Oct 26 2012
Singapore’s Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is a lot more fun than the name suggests, with antique fire engines you can climb aboard and the opportunity to stick your arm into a hazmat (hazardous material) suit. It’s the perfect place to take aspiring firefighters and admission is free.
Just a five-minute walk from City Hall MRT station, the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is located in the Central Fire Station, the oldest surviving fire station in Singapore. The gallery features an interesting mix of old and new, with the first level commemorating the history of firefighting in Singapore and the second level showcasing the technology used by the city-state’s Civil Defence Force.
Entering the gallery, the first thing you see are the three antique fire engines. These were the first motorized fire engines to be used in Singapore, which was a colony at the time, and were imported from Britain. It’s possible to climb inside the cab of the fire engine and watch black-and-white videos of firefighters in colonial Singapore. There are some other collectibles on display, including old uniforms and hand-held water pumps, and stories about the tragic Bukit Ho Swee fire that destroyed over 2,000 homes in 1961, long before Singapore was built from concrete and glass.
The second level of the gallery is all about current technology designed to keep Singapore safe from fires and other disasters. There is a complete ambulance and dioramas showing how powerful machines can rescue people from collapsed subway tunnels or malfunctioning elevators. Some of the exhibits resemble video games, such as a disaster simulation where you put your arm in a hazmat suit and have five seconds to turn a valve or where you use a fire hose to put out a burning building on a TV screen.
To get the most out of a visit, come on a Saturday morning from 09:00–11:00 when there is also an open house at the active fire station beside the gallery. Alternatively, on Tuesday and Friday nights visitors are allowed to climb to the top of the station’s 30-metre tower that Singapore’s firemen used as an observation point in the early 1900s. This is also free, but requires advance registration online.
Admission to the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is completely free; you will simply be asked to sign the registration book with your name and nationality. A small gift shop sells unique souvenirs like Singapore Fire Department T-shirts and badges.
Civil Defence Heritage Gallery
62 Hill Street
Nearest MRT: City Hall
T: 6332 2996
Open 10:00–17:00 Tues-Sun
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