SINGAPORE: The Civil Defence Academy (CDA) will be redeveloped over the next three years to have more realistic training facilities, including virtual reality firefighting training and mock-ups of a bus interchange and shopping mall.
Opened in 1999, the academy in Jalan Bahar is where the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) trains its national servicemen and regular personnel in areas like disaster management, firefighting as well as urban search and rescue.
SCDF said on Thursday (Apr 15) that it is redeveloping the academy to remain relevant for future emergency response scenarios and to meet new challenges.
The CDA redevelopment project will take place over a period of three years and will include many new and innovative features which will enhance training realism, effectiveness and outcomes, it said in a video released as part of its annual work plan seminar.
The new academy will have mixed-use premises featuring mock-ups of metropolitan facilities such as a bus interchange, an underground MRT station and a shopping mall to facilitate large-scale urban fire and rescue exercises.
Designed with input from our specialist units, the facilities prepare responders to undertake complex operations such as urban search and rescue and hazardous materials mitigation, SCDF said.
A high-rise facility called the furnace, where trainees learn to fight live fires, will be updated with the latest residential and commercial layouts, including dormitories, hotel rooms, as well as private and public housing.
It will also get a new vehicle tunnel where responders will tackle simulated real-life situations, including a road traffic accident, a vehicle fire or a partial collapse of a tunnel wall.
There will be a digital learning laboratory so responders can train without constraints imposed by the physical environment.
In the lab, trainees can use a virtual reality firefighting training system to learn about different fire phenomena and the corresponding tactical responses required. They will gain valuable experiences in a safe learning environment before facing live fire simulators, SCDF said.
A virtual reality fire investigation training system will replicate the aftermath of a fire and provide forensic tools for an immersive training experience in virtual burn rooms.
Fire truck and ambulance driving simulators will let responders practise emergency response driving in a safe and controlled environment. They will use data analytics on responders performance to facilitate targeted or corrective training.
For SCDF paramedics and emergency medical technicians, a mixed-reality system is designed to improve realism on their training in on-scene assessment and pre-hospital treatment protocols.
To drive training standards and certification needs, the revamped academy will have a new National Emergency Medical Services Training Centre, said SCDF.
The centre is designed to provide a comprehensive training curriculum on professional medical skills, team-based pre-hospital training as well as scenario-based training to emulate the complete pre-hospital care procedures and processes.
It will leverage virtual reality and augmented reality technologies to simulate realistic scenarios for paramedics and emergency medical technicians, SCDF added. 
The new academy will also have a Fire Research Centre to deepen expertise and knowledge in fire science and research.
The state-of-the-art research facility enables the conduct of comprehensive fire-related studies for SCDF to continually validate and review its Fire Code requirements and standards to ensure optimal fire safety standards are adopted in Singapores buildings, SCDF added.
A new Leadership Development Centre will offer programmes that prepare officers to perform in various leadership roles.
The centre will also do disaster management research and conduct senior executive programmes for disaster managers in the region and beyond.
With the redevelopment of CDA, we are confident to continue producing professionals and leaders who will be better equipped and ready for any operational challenges of the future, SCDF said.
SCDF personnel will also be better equipped physically. SCDF commissioner Eric Yap revealed that from 2022, fire and rescue personnel will wear enhanced personal protective equipment with material science upgrades for maximum comfort and safety.
Responders self-contained breathing apparatus system will also be replaced with digitised sets that support real-time monitoring of their profiles during operations.
These improvements are part of SCDFs push towards a digitally enabled incident response that prioritises the safety of our personnel, Commissioner Yap said in a separate recorded video.
Still on hardware, the commissioner said firefighting robots of different capabilities will be commonplace in all pumpers and Red Rhinos for everyday response.
The Red Rhino robot and pumper firefighting machine are first-tier robots that will be deployed alongside first responder firefighting and rescue teams.
Higher capability robots on the second tier will be deployed as reinforcements for large-scale operations. These include the high mobility modular machine and the unmanned firefighting machine 3.0 that can tackle large, complex operations and challenging terrains.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said SCDF will have more intelligent robots and unmanned ground vehicles in frontline operations.
SCDF continues to push the boundaries, to re-imagine the future of emergency response, he said in a recorded video. The vision is a force that is able to use different technologies to save lives.