Trial By Fire – Braving fire and water – literally and figuratively – Lieutenant Scott Adam Hughes earns the trust and respect of his rota.
TEXT: ANNIE TAN
PHOTOGRAPHY: DARREN CHANG
Lieutenant Scott Adam Hughes is probably not the first image that would naturally spring to mind when you think of a Home Team NSman. With a British father and a Singaporean mother of Javanese descent, his mixed parentage shows in his appearance. When the 22-year-old first enlisted, everyone asked: “You’re ang moh [slang for ‘Caucasian’]. Why are you doing National Service?”
Hughes would reply in perfect Singlish: “I’m a Singapore citizen. Of course I have to do my National Service.” In fact, he did not merely complete his service; he contributed actively. He went through the Singapore Civil Defence Force Rota Commander Course and Marine Fire-fighting Specialist Course, participated in the SCDF Swim Meet, and even represented the Brani Marine Fire Station as flag bearer at the SCDF Parade last year – a great honour for him. Even after completing his full-time NS, the lieutenant continues to keep in touch with his rota personnel.
During a major marine fire that took place on July 16 last year, he was one of the officers deployed. “The superstructure of a container ship, where the workers slept, was raging. We tried to assess the situation inside, but it was too hot, even after setting up and applying a charged nozzle,” he shares. “Marine fires are hotter than normal fires because a ship’s metal body conducts heat. So even if the fire is not right in front, you will instantly feel the heat on board when part of the structure is burning.”
The massive fire took more than 30 SCDF personnel to extinguish in about five hours. “As an officer, usually you won’t be manning the jet.
But it took so long that sheer fatigue set in for all. Everyone, including my commanders, took turns to pick up the nozzle and helped,” he adds. Taking place on the first day of being posted to his station, this fire helped to cement the bond between Hughes and his rota. “When we brave fires like this together, there is a lot of trust between us. Everyone gives his best,” he says.
When asked if racial diversity was ever a stumbling block in team-bonding and building trust, he says emphatically: “In SCDF and the Home Team, we don’t judge a person based on their race, culture or how they were brought up. You really see each person for the man that he is – what he does, how he carries himself and how much he is willing to give.”