Civil Defence Heritage Gallery

Great outing for aspiring firefighters

What we say: 3.5 stars

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.

At this museum you're welcome to touch - or sit in - the exhibits!

At this museum you’re welcome to touch — or sit in — the exhibits.

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.

We hate to think how hot it gets in there.

We hate to think how hot it gets in there.

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.

Keeping Singapore safe, one mannequin at a time,

Keeping Singapore safe, one mannequin at a time.

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.

The Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is one of the few freebies in downtown Singapore.

The Civil Defence Heritage Gallery is one of the few freebies in downtown Singapore.

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.

More details
62 Hill Street
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10:00-17:00
How to get there: Nearest MRT: City Hall
Last updated: 14th November, 2014

About the author:
Tanya Procyshyn is a Singapore-based freelance writer and photographer. With a passion for unusual destinations, she has camped alongside Komodo dragons and shook hands with soldiers in North Korea. She blogs at
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Civil Defence Heritage Gallery
62 Hill Street
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