Hazel Poa Koon Koon

Upgrading of Circuit Breaker Systems to Offer Better Protection to Whole HDB Flats

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This was an Oral Question asked in Parliament by NCMP Ms Hazel Poa on 5th April 2022

Ms Hazel Poa asked the Minister for National Development (a) how many HDB flats are fitted with residual current circuit breaker (RCCB) that do not protect the whole unit; and (b) whether these flats will be upgraded to provide circuit breaker protection for the whole unit.

Mr Desmond Lee: Flats built before 1985, which comprise about 30% of our current HDB housing stock, were provided with fuses. RCCBs became a requirement from 1985, and this applied to new homes (including HDB flats) built on or after 1985 as well as older homes (including flats) that underwent substantive renovations. Over the years, most of these flats, which are close to 40 years old, would have undergone renovations, would likely have had their electrical circuit rewired and installed with RCCBs in line with the regulatory requirements. Based on a sample survey of about 1,800 HDB flats built before 1985, it is estimated that less than 1% of such flats do not have RCCB protection covering the entire unit.

To ensure electrical safety in residential premises, including HDB flats, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) regulates electrical installations in Singapore via the Electricity (Electrical Installations) Regulations. These regulations require all electrical works, such as the installation of electrical wiring and RCCBs, to be undertaken by a licensed electrical worker (LEW). The regulations also require the LEW to ensure that the electrical works meet the industry technical and safety requirements and standards.

After the completion of the electrical installations, the LEW is required to apply to SP Group for inspection and testing of the installations. This is to ensure that they have been installed correctly and are safe and fit for operation, before the electricity supply can be turned on.

Since August 2020, HDB has included the option to rewire non-compliant water heaters for flats undergoing the Home Improvement Programme (HIP). HDB has also advised flat owners to replace RCCBs which are found faulty during HIP. For HIP projects tendered in 2020 under the new extended HIP, HDB has included the checking and replacement of faulty RCCBs.

EMA also conducts periodic educational campaigns on electrical safety in partnership with agencies such as HDB and Enterprise Singapore (ESG). For example, in July 2021, EMA sent out information leaflets in utility bills to remind homeowners to test their RCCBs. Flat owners should check that their entire flat is protected by RCCB and test their RCCBs regularly to ensure the safety of electrical circuits, especially in older homes. Flat owners can contact HDB if they need help to locate their RCCBs or to find electrical contractors who they can engage to do the checks.

HDB will continue to work with EMA on efforts to raise awareness and improve electrical safety for HDB residents.

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