On 21 November 1972, a blaze tore through Robinson’s department store at Raffles Place.

It started at around 10am, when the store was busy with customers. Nine people tragically died. Eight of them were trapped in elevators.

Two nearby fire hydrants were malfunctioning on that day – dropping water pressure, preventing the fire and rescue teams from effectively fighting the flames. The fire spread as a result, partially destroying neighbouring buildings.

In the wake of the tragedy, an official inquest gave rise to the Building Control Act of 1974. The Act gave authorities the power to take action against unauthorised building works and dangerous or dilapidated buildings.

Singapore has a long, complex history with fire – but events in modern history have changed development in the country forever, thanks largely to the Building Control Act.

Singapore fire history