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From novice to seasoned firefighter: 2LT Subhan Baathusha’s leadership journey with SCDF

This SCDF platoon commander and his teammates learned how to ‘see’ in a smoke-logged room. Here’s how they did it.

This SCDF platoon commander and his teammates learned how to ‘see’ in a smoke-logged room. Here’s how they did it.



After weeks of firefighting training in the Civil Defence Academy, 2LT Subhan Baathusha was confident in responding to any emergency. His confidence would soon be tested.

In his first duty at Bukit Batok Fire Station, Subhan and his teammates responded to a fire at a HDB flat.

When his team forced open the door to the unit, they were enveloped by thick, black smoke, which greatly reduced the visibility.

“We immediately recalled our training, staying close to the wall and taking small, shuffling steps to reach the source of the fire,” recalls the 21-year-old. “It was my first call, so I naturally anxious. Although I did not tell anyone, but Enciks (warrant officers) could sense it. They went to great lengths to boost my confidence, staying by my side throughout the fire and giving me guidance.”


Subhan reveals that his pre-enlistee self would not have been able to cope with such a situation. He gave a genuine account of his lifestyle before his enlistment.

“I was undisciplined and slept irregular hours. I did not control my diet and exercise and just wanted to coast through life.”

But a year-and-a-half in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has changed that.

Today, Subhan is a disciplined platoon commander with the Basic Rescue Training Branch in the Civil Defence Academy.  Along the way, he was named the best trainee of his Section Commander Course (SCC) cohort and ran the  2.4km in under nine minutes. He credits the change largely to his SCDF training and service. He has found and overcome new challenges in each phase:

Physical Training Phase [8 weeks]“I volunteered for this programme before my enlistment. I felt that it was the right choice for me. The training was tough but helped in my physical conditioning.

Basic Firefighter Training (BFFT) [4 weeks]: “The bunker gear endurance exercises were the most challenging,” shares Subhan. This consists of 30 to 40 minutes of exercise wearing their Firefighting Protective Suits. It is done daily during the BFFT, to acclimatise firefighters to the heat and humidity during firefighting.

SCC [16 weeks]: This phase helped Subhan to discover and develop his leadership skills. “The most valuable lesson for me was how to lead from the front. Being quite young, I was initially uncomfortable in making decisions and leading, for fear of doing something wrong. But during this course, I overcame these fears and became  a more confident leader.”

Station 44 [4 weeks]: This was Subhan;s first chance to put his leadership lessons into practice. He responded to his first fire call and learned how to lead by example.

Rota Commander Course (RCC) [20 weeks]: The RCC equipped Subhan with skills in incident management, fire safety and investigation, and Hazardous Materials (HazMat) mitigation. He learnt how to teach and engage people based on their different learning styles. “By varying the way I teach, I can communicate better with my people.”

Basic Rescue Training Branch: Subhan’s training and experience prepared him well for his final posting in SCDF. He is now a platoon commander at the Basic Rescue Training Branch in the Civil Defence Academy, overseeing the welfare and training of 30 recruits under his charge.

“It has come full circle. Now that I have six months left in my National Service, I look forward to imparting the same lessons and confidence I gained from my seniors to a new generation.”


Embrace curiosity

  • Foster a culture of continuous learning
  • Encourage questions and open-mindedness.
  • Be open to new technologies and diverse perspectives

Pursue constant improvement

  • Set clear goals and regularly assess progress
  • Seek feedback and actively listen to inputs from peers and team members
  • Embrace failure as a stepping stone to improvement

Cultivate resilience

  • Develop a growth mindset to navigate challenges
  • Build a support network and seek mentorship when needed
  • Practise self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance to enhance resilience.

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15th March 2024
12:21 PM

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