He was a quiet and shy person, but gave his best and was always smiling even when he was drenched in sweat and tired from training.
Known to his friends as Edward, the 19-year-old enlisted in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in April 2022 and had aspirations to enrol in medical school upon completion of his national service.
But Edward will not get the chance to realise his dream when he died after fighting a fire in a rental flat at Block 91 Henderson Road.
The SCDF said he fell unconscious in the kitchen area of the fourth-storey flat.
His crew had brought him out of the unit and tried to resuscitate him before he was taken to Singapore General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
News of Edward’s death led to an outpouring of condolences from members of the public on social media.
Those who knew him described him as a bright and brave person.
Mr Shihan Ahnaf Shoeb, 23, who had trained Edward in the SCDF, said the fallen firefighter had struggled early on in his national service.
He said that Edward did not stand out initially, as he was really quiet in the first month of his Basic Rescue Training.
“But over time he started to talk more, and he always smiled. That’s what I remember most about him,” Mr Shihan added.
“He was a really bright kid, the kind that just by talking to him, you would know how smart he is and how bright his future was.”
Mr Shihan recalled that Edward was on the weaker side physically and “quite skinny”, but never gave up during training.
He said that when he enlisted, Edward would shiver from barely doing five push-ups, but kept striving and improved his physical fitness significantly by the time he had completed his training.
“He never once complained… he endured everything and always pushed through,” said Mr Shihan, who is now a student.
“A real brave soldier to say the least… he was the last person I expected for something like this to happen to.”
Facebook user Anne W Holloway posted that she is a friend of Edward’s grandmother, and that she was shocked to find out about Edward’s death through friends in Hong Kong.
“By his proud grandmother’s accounts he was a lovely child while growing up, a source of much joy and happiness,” she wrote, adding that Edward’s family are devout Christians and very close knit.
“It can only be devastating for them. Please pray for Edward’s family so that they may bear this huge loss and recover from it. Pray also for Edward, a promising young man who had no chance to live the life which once was his.”
Facebook user Charles Ho, who said he is Edward’s uncle, said on the social media platform that his nephew was always jovial, and was a “straight-A student” who planned to go to medical school.
A woman, believed to be Edward’s mother, had turned up at the mortuary at the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Friday morning, and was accompanied by several SCDF personnel.
Shin Min Daily News reported that she had entered the mortuary at about 10am before coming out about half an hour later.
She was described as looking tired and sad, with tears in her eyes.
When approached, she told reporters that she was “too broken”.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.