When people are asked what they want to be when they grow up, the brave ones usually respond with becoming a firefighter.

Today, we got to take a peek into the lives of lifesavers in emergencies, at COSEM’s training grounds!

What does COSEM do?

COSEM is a co-operative with a social mission in providing employment opportunities for retired Singapore Civil Defence Force workers. They provide training and consultancy work in fire safety, rescue, medical and civil defence systems. They help with decontamination work when there are chemical spillages, and supply fire safety equipment among other things.

Learning CPR

In order to make sure that students are always ready to save the day when needed, they had the opportunity to practice their emergency first responder skills on Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) manikins!

Students were taught simple steps to remember in an emergency situation that calls for CPR.

After that, they had a go at practising CPR under the guidance of the instructors.

Everybody loves Firefighting

Here, students got to try on the firefighter’s gear. And that’s not something you can do every day!

A student trying out the uniform assisted the real firefighter.

Helmet on and ready to go!

A bit of a challenge putting on multiple pieces of bulky gear at once. Of course, it’s no sweat when you know these are all meant to protect the firefighter as much as possible in the fire’s blaze.

And did you know? In an emergency, firefighters must be dressed in all their gear and be ready to go in under one minute! That’s possible after all their training.

The Different Types of Fire Extinguishers (Really?! I thought there was only one – water?)

Nope, turns out there are different types!

The instructors helpfully gave an overview of the various types of fire extinguishers and their specific uses.

The fire extinguishers differ in whether they use carbon dioxide, dry powder or just water to put out the fire. These types have specific uses and are colour-coded on the fire extinguisher, as you can see in the pictures.

The instructors also shared that red fire extinguishers are the latest ones and comply with the recent regulations, while blue fire extinguishers are outdated and would be phased out soon.

There’s a reminder to check that your fire extinguisher hasn’t expired!

The Fire Simulator

The highlight was the tour of the fire simulator, where a set-up of a kitchen could be set on fire under controlled conditions for training purposes.

The instructor first shared the three stages of fire:

1) Incipient stage, the beginning of a fire.

2) Smouldering stage, the intermediate stage of a fire.

3) Flame stage, the final stage with a fully developed flame.

The instructor also explained that kitchen fires are one of the most common sources of fires.

Did you know that cooking oil can catch fire under four minutes if left unattended?

Now you should definitely not leave your stove unattended, not even to just text your friend.

Otherwise, this might happen.

This was what some of us experienced.

A breathtaking, literally, display of a fire in all its might.

Thankfully, under controlled conditions in the fire simulator.


In all, we learned a life-saving skill, CPR, heard the experiences of firefighters, had a glimpse into their work in emergencies, and learned useful tips about what to do in emergencies.

That’s how you have a lit learning journey. Literally.

This article was brought to you by Waffen Matthew Wee, who was an intern in SNCF, Campus & Youth Team during his semester break. He is in his 2nd year in National University of Singapore and is studying in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He’s intrigued by the fact that co-operatives aim to pursue both their social and economic goals at the same time and wishes to learn more about how they balance that through their business model.