Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Fire & Burns

Bukit Ho Swee fire

On 25 May 1961, fire ravaged the squatter settlement of Bukit Ho Swee. Four people were killed and some 16,000 dwellers were left homeless as the fire razed 100 acres of attap houses, factories, shops, timber yards and even a school. SGH, along with other organisations, came forward to help. Setting up an outdoor clinic at Kim Seng West School, treating more than 200 cases in the first six hours. 

Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak at the casualty unit at Kim Seng School Fire Relief Centre on his tour of the Bukit Ho Swee fire devastated areas

Spyros Tanker Explosion

In October 1978, Singapore experienced its first post-war mass casualty disaster when an explosion on the Greek tanker S T Spyros left 76 people dead and injured another 69. The lessons learnt from scrambling to deal with horrific burns sustained by the victims led to the setting up of the Burns Unit in SGH.

Patients with severe burns were arriving at our Burns Unit in SGH, literally by the lorry load. We rushed out and immediately started work on them. All of them were burnt and covered in oil, some of them burnt beyond recognition. We didn’t go home for three days. We didn’t bathe. It was terrible.

All we did was to treat the victims who came in. What came out of that disaster was the development of the Burns Unit. The hospital administration gave us two wards, with a total of 76 beds and told us to plan and design it.

Prof Lee Seng Teik

Professor Lee Seng Teik
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital

Major Burns Referral Centre for Southeast Asia

Established in 1962, the SGH Burn Centre has become the major burns referral centre for Southeast Asia, providing specialised and multidisciplinary care , from point of injury to post-hospital rehabilitation. As a level I trauma centre, routinely receives severely burned patients throughout Southeast Asia requiring specialised burn care.

Terrorist attacks were almost nonexistent in Southeast Asia until the 2002 bombing at Kuta Beach on the island of Bali. Indonesia suffered more attacks targeting the Jakarta Marriott hotel in 2003 and the Australian embassy in 2004 and further Bali bombings in 2005.

In three of these attacks, the SGH Burns Centre served as a receiving facility for some of the most severely burned victims in the immediate aftermath of the blasts.

Unveiling of the upgraded Burns centre in 2019. The new facility is refurbished with custom-built operating theatres and high-dependency rooms to cater to more patients

The Early Years

The birth of modern Singapore is inextricably linked to the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles on 28 January, 1819. Two years after his arrival, the foundation stone for the first general hospital was laid.

Settling at Sepoy Lines

​The Singapore General Hospital till today is still remembered as "See Pai Poh" because of its late 19th century relocation to Sepoy Lines, which came to designate the locality around the General Hospital.

War And Awakening

The Japanese occupation forces took over the General Hospital for use by their troops in Southeast Asia.

However, the disruption from the war brought about a paradigm shift in the local medical community. With the expatriate doctors interned by the Japanese during the war, local doctors and staff assumed full responsibility in running the hospitals that continued to serve the locals. They proved themselves capable and became aware of the imperative need to unify the medical service with equal treatment of local and colonial doctors posted from Britain and India.

Envisioning Our Destiny

​Just five years after gaining independence, Singapore was actively exploring avenues of economic development to ensure its sustainability. Initiatives were underway to make Singapore a liveable city, and healthcare systems and services had to keep pace with modern advances across the globe.

Walking With The Nation

​As the country was gripped by events like Konfrontasi, the Maria Hertogh riots, the Pulau Senang prison riot and the Hock Lee Bus protests, SGH continued to treat their respective victims.

200 Years And Beyond

​SGH has undergone numerous transformations since its establishment nearly 200 years ago to keep up with the needs of Singaporeans. The iconic Bowyer Block, a National Monument in recognition of its national significance and rich history, is a standing reminder of how far we have come in advancing patient care.