A SCDF Journey – From Classroom to Command

LTA Jia Cheng’s (bottom row, third from the right) group photo with Alexandra Fire Station ROTA 2 showcasing the SCDF new bunker gear.

The life-changing experience during his National Service with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) led the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Scholar Teo Jia Cheng to discover his true calling in public service. Armed with a degree in Information Systems from the Singapore Management University (SMU), he is committed to applying his academic knowledge to serve the needs and ensure the safety of the Singapore community as an SCDF Officer and growing alongside the SCDF.

My First Choice

During my Information Systems studies at SMU, my SCDF National Service experience as a ROTA Commander with Ang Mo Kio Fire Station took centre stage in my career considerations. The memory of commanding and being part of a team that places high value on training, safety and teamwork to achieve noble goal of saving lives and protecting property, proved to be pivotal in my choice to pursue a career with the life saving organisation.

From engaging the public on fire safety, to rescuing the injured from road traffic accidents, to developing response plans to improve our operational excellence, I knew that.

Following this realisation, I applied for the MHA Uniformed Scholarship (mid-term), blending my academic pursuits with a passion for public service. It funded my education and served as a gateway to many exciting experiences. Despite missing the chance for a fully sponsored one-semester overseas exchange programme due to time constraints, I seized the opportunity to participate in three Vacation Attachment Programmes (VAPs) in 2021 and 2022 during my term breaks.

Training Execise with Sectionmates during National Service

Diverse Learning Opportunities

I had the opportunity to be attached to three different staff departments at the SCDF Headquarters for my VAPs. These experiences offered valuable insights into diverse aspects of SCDF, including its operational policies and dynamics, transformative initiatives through innovative solutions, and talent attraction and acquisition. I acquired a comprehensive set of both hard and soft skills, encompassing proficiency in software usage and refined communication skills.

Entourage team at Istana for The SPFS & MHA Scholarships Award Ceremony 2023

There is a common misconception that what we study during university is irrelevant for a uniformed career, but I successfully applied my knowledge of information systems during my short attachment stint by involving myself in projects that analyse data and create innovative solutions to enhance the SCDF internal systems.

The scholarship also exposed me to opportunities beyond SCDF. For example, I participated in the Home Team Scholars’ Vacation Programme during my summer break in 2022. The programme is crafted with diverse learning journeys across all Home Team Departments (HTDs), with the aim to foster a deeper understanding of each Home Team and showcasing how HTDs synergise and work cohesively. This exposure underscored the importance of unity between the various government agencies and our pledge to safeguard the nation.

Growing Personally and Professionally

The exposure and insights gained during my pre-service nurtured my intellectual growth and instilled a profound sense of duty and responsibility. Currently, I serve as a Hazardous Materials (HazMat) ROTA Commander at Alexandra Fire Station and lead a team of 31 men and women. Aside from responding to fire and rescue incidents within the fire station’s boundary, the SCDF enrolled me into the HazMat Specialist Course which provided me with the skills and knowledge to lead my team in any HazMat incident, where we identify and employ a variety of methods and technology to mitigate the HazMat source. I also work closely with my team in fire safety enforcement and community engagements.

The SCDF places significant emphasis on fostering both personal and professional growth. I intend to benefit from the Learning & Development Subsidy Scheme provided by the organisation to take up courses in field of Data Science. This reflects the organisation’s commitment to foster a safe and nuturing work environment that enables me to pick up new skills and engage in various projects beyond my primary job duties.

Audit Drill Exercise with Alexandra Fire Station ROTA 2

In an increasingly complex and multifaceted world, the SCDF’s comprehensive approach to personal and professional development enables me to grow and serve the community meaningfully, and prepares me for an exciting future in the public service.

Ministry of Home Affairs Uniformed Scholarship (SCDF)
Bachelor of Science (Information Systems), Singapore Management University
Now: HazMat ROTA Commander, Alexandra Fire Station