SINGAPORE: When Jurong Fire Station leaves its current site at 25 Boon Lay Drive later this year to move to a new location, it will close its doors on the sweet memories of two people who fell in love there.
One morning in April 2001, Senior Warrant Officer 2 Mohamed Nur Azli was about to head home after ending his night duty when he heard Sergeant Maisya’s lively chatter fill the station.
Maisya had joined the station that morning as a trainee paramedic while Azli was on his second day of duty as a full paramedic after completing his training.
“She came to the station all chirpy and very noisy, I recall asking my colleague who the new girl was,” said Azli.
At the end of 2001, the pair had the chance to get to know each other better when they participated in the Civil Defence Skills Challenge (CDSC), which is now known as the Singapore-Global Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge (SGFPC), and which was a race to test the participants’ life-saving skills. The couple was paired together and they started to bond.
While participating in the challenge, the pair realised that they worked well together and were subsequently chosen to represent the 4th Civil Defence division in the inter-divisions competition.
And that was when the seeds of love started to bloom.
A few weeks after the challenge, they walked out of the gates of Jurong Fire Station and headed for their first date. That first date eventually led to them getting married in August 2002.
“We had different off days, but I would come back to the station on my off days specially to leave chocolates and a note on his table in the paramedics’ office,” Maisya said.
As well as being a location where love blossomed, the fire station holds memories for many pioneer generation firefighters, as it used to house a training school for NSmen serving in the Singapore Fire Brigade, the predecessor of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Known as the Jurong Fire Training School, it was set up in 1976 within the Jurong Fire Station which was opened on Nov 12, 1975 by the late Mr Othman Wok, who was then the Minister of Social Affairs.
Veteran firefighters Senior Warrant Officer Jerry Chia and Warrant Officer Koh Ser Teck were among the pioneer batches of full-time national servicemen who trained at the school. Recently, they returned to where they learned their skills to take a tour of the station and reminisce about their days as NSmen.
Standing in Jurong Fire Station’s hose tower, Jerry explained that the tower was used to dry the canvas hoses that were used to fight fires in the past. “We don’t use the tower to dry hoses anymore because hoses these days are made of duraline and they require low maintenance, unlike the canvas ones. Now the tower is used exclusively for fire and rescue drills.”
“My batchmates and I carried hoses on our shoulders and ran up the tower as part of our daily morning training session. When we reached the top of the tower, we needed to shout out loudly, ‘Good morning, Jurong Fire Station!’,” recalled Ser Teck, who enlisted in March 1981.
Jerry, who enlisted in July 1977, added: “In those days, shouting was a way of training our vocal strengths. This helped us to use our voices to reach out to trapped victims in times of emergency.”
For Ser Teck, one of the unforgettable parts of Jurong Fire Station was the washroom.
He recalled: “On book out days, the instructors would often make us stay behind to clean and shine the copper pipes in the washroom until we could see our own reflection in it.
“On nights out, my batchmates and I used to go to an open-air cinema that was within walking distance from the station,” said Jerry. “I also remember all the times we spent leisurely playing soccer, volleyball and sepak takraw in this station.”
The station will be dearly missed by Jerry after its relocation because it was his “grooming ground as a life saver” in 1977 and where he later came back as a trainer in 1986 and subsequently became a Deputy Rota Commander (second in command in a fire station shift duty) in 1999.
For the lovebirds, the paramedics’ office in Jurong Fire Station will always hold a special place in their hearts because that was where they spent most of their time together.
“She was one trainee I had no problem working with because she’s very proactive and always full of ideas,” said Azli.
Reminiscing about her days in the fire station, Maisya said: “I have had a lot of fond memories in this station. Not only did I spend time with my husband in the station, I also spent time with the firemen. I remember the times when we plucked fruits from the breadfruit trees and fried them. This tree, including the mango trees, are still in the station.”
All in all, it became a home away from home, Maisya said.
“I used to sleep over in the station even during my off duty. That’s how much I enjoyed my time here.”