May 24, 2012
0220 SINGAPORE - Hill Street Fire Station
In 19th century, most buildings in Singapore were made of wood, and for cooking and light was used open fire, so house fires were very common. After a major fire destroyed on 7 November 1855 S$13,000 of property around Kling Street (kling is a local reference to Indians), the civic authorities decided to establish a profesional fire brigade. This didn't happen until 1869, and a proper fire service was founded only in 1888, which it soon proved inadequate, because of lack in trained firemen and modern firefighting equipment. The arrival in 1904, from England, of Superintendent Montague William Pett (Singapore’s first professional firefighter), and the building, on Hill Street, between 1905 and 1908, of the Central Fire Station (in the picture), radically changed the situation.
For the new Central Fire Station were imported from Britain steel bricks and iron. It had a three-floor main building, with an engine house, living quarters for the firemen and their families, a repair shop, a carpenter shop, a paint room, a training yard and a lookout tower, which was the tallest tower in Singapore until the 1930s. The red-and-white brick building (a popular style in Edwardian England) was nicknamed "blood and bandage".
During WWII, the station was painted in camouflage green. After Singapore fell to the Japanese, 8 professional firefighters from the Singapore Fire Brigade and 27 of the auxiliary force personnel were allowed to stay, while the rest of the British officers were interned at Changi Prison. The remaining firefighting forces continued to carry out their duties throughout the Japanese Occupation.
The station was granted national monument status in 1998, and the Singapore Civil Defence Force subsequently embarked on conservation and reconstruction work, including building the Heritage Gallery to commemorate the history of the local fire service. The gallery is located in the oldest part of the station and features photographs of major fires, old firefighting equipment and uniforms, interactive displays and audio-visual presentations to reach out to the public. Its highlights include a 19th century fire engine, and the 30m lookout tower which visitors can climb up.
About the stamps
The first stamp, depicting White-Collared Kingfisher (5¢), is part of a Pond Life definitive collection, about which I wrote here.
The second stamp is part of another definive series, Flora and Fauna issued on 2007 and consisting of 14 denominations:
• Domestic 1st Class - Frangipani (Plumeria rubra)
• Domestic 2nd Class - Torch ginger (Etlingera elatior)
• Crimson sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja) (5c)
• Yellow-rumped flycatcher (Ficedula zanthopygia) (20c)
• Blue-throated bee-eater (Merops viridis) (30c)
• Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava) (45c) – it’s on this postcard
• Stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) (50c)
• Blue-crowned hanging parrot (Loriculus galgulus) (55c)
• Common goldenback (Dinopium javanese) (65c)
• Jamnu fruit dove (Ptilinopus jambu) (80c)
• Large indian civet (Viverra zibetha) ($1.10)
• Banded leaf monkey (Prebytis femoralis) ($2.00)
• Malayan pangolin (Manis javanica) ($5.00)
• Cream-coloured giant squirrel (Ratufa affinis) ($10.00)
The stamps were reprint for several times, the reprint marking being clearly indicated 2007B (1st reprint), 2007C (2nd reprint), 2007D (3rd reprint), etc. On my postcard is a 2007E.
sender: Kai / leengiankai (postcrossing)
sent from Singapore, on 04.05.2012