Our Hero: Newlywed Delivery Rider Helps Save Burning Preschool En Route To Fulfilling Orders
STORY: Diane Lam
10 September 2021
All of us know what it’s like to order food, only to suffer delays. You refresh the app over and over and over again, but your rider seems to be going in circles. Or worse, stuck on the road and MIA over text.
Normally, our first instinct would be to start raging, but at the end of the day, these riders are just trying to make a living. Sometimes their app breaks down. Sometimes they really need to use the toilet halfway. And sometimes, like in the case of newlywed Haqiz Taha, they’re risking life and limb to put out a fire.
August 10, 2021, began as an average Tuesday night for the 24-year-old Deliveroo rider, who had planned to spend his evening fulfilling dinner orders for hungry customers. But while cruising down Pasir Panjang Road, he spotted plumes of smoke rising from a Maple Bear preschool. There were no firefighters around. Almost immediately, Haziq stopped his bike to check if there was anyone trapped inside.
“The scene was alarming as the fire was quite huge, and I saw a lot of smoke rising,” he told us over email. “I heard explosions and saw that the building was crumbling, which was when I knew I had to help as I was concerned if there was anyone trapped inside. Thankfully, upon inspecting the building from a safe distance, I assessed that the building was empty.”
As the flames grew, Haziq called the authorities and ushered bystanders away from the inferno. And as someone who served as a firefighter during his National Service (NS), he also knew how to prepare the premises for the fire engine’s arrival.
“I knew that the fire engine needed access to the school to put out the fire. This is when I made my way to the front gate and realised the hydraulic gate was stuck. With the help of another person, we forced it open. When the firefighters arrived, I offered to locate the fire hydrant and assisted to fix the water supply. When the water flow was steady, I continued to deliver my order to my customer.”
Thankfully, there were no injuries or fatalities. Haziq went back to work that night (believe it or not, the food was only 20 minutes late!). And at the end of last month, he was even presented with the SCDF Community First Responder Award (CFRA).
“I am very honoured to receive the Community First Responder Award from the Singapore Civil Defence Force,” Haziq said. “On that day, it seemed like a typical day for me and I never expected that I would come across such an incident. This recognition means a lot to me and makes me very happy.”
Deliveroo also rewarded Haziq with $200 worth of credits and presented him and his wife with two tickets to the Singapore Zoo - a fitting gesture, since both are animal lovers.
While the incident was widely reported in the news, we wanted to hear how it all went down, in Haziq's words. Here's what he shared:
Most of us would be helpless when faced with a fire as big as that one. Did you feel hesitant at all about helping? And how did you know what to do in that moment?
I served as a firefighter during my National Service (NS), so I knew what had to be done. It was almost second nature for me to see how I can help the situation. As I had served my NS in the same area where the school is located, I felt a sense of responsibility to this community and thought that it was important for me to help.
Were the firefighters surprised to see that you and another bystander were already helping?
When the firefighters arrived, I identified myself as having served as a firefighter in NS and helped explain the situation - sharing that some passersby and I helped to force open the hydraulic gate and clear the area. They were grateful to have more hands on deck, and I helped them locate the fire hydrant and assisted in fixing the water supply.
When you were in NS, did you ever imagine that this would happen? What were some of the challenges or experiences you went through that prepared you jump in and help?
During my NS, I served as a firefighter at the SCDF West Coast Marine Fire Station. There, I learned what to do in the event of a fire, such as proper procedures to evacuate people and access water channels to put out fires, and basic and essential knowledge like first-aid training. I’m very lucky to pick up First Aid training because of NS as I believe it’s important for everyone to have basic knowledge of it, and I hope that others will also consider taking it up. In fact, Deliveroo has a First Aid training programme for riders such as myself, and I’d like to use this opportunity to encourage more riders to sign up, as I’ve seen other riders lend a helping hand in situations where such knowledge comes in handy!
How did your friends and family respond when they heard about this incident?
My family is very proud of me for helping, especially my wife. My NS buddies also said I did a great job. Even though it was a terrifying situation, the adrenaline rush kept me up that entire night! I’m proud of myself and now I have a great story to share during social gatherings haha.
How did your customer respond when their food was late? Were they mad??
I didn’t get a chance to update the customer through the Deliveroo app about the delay as things on the ground happened so quickly! The food order was about 20 minutes late but I was met with a smile from the customer when I arrived. I guess she was just happy to receive her food! Deliveroo has also let me know that they have shared an explanation with the customer separately. They have also offered the customer Deliveroo credits as a gesture of goodwill, so I’m grateful that they have stepped in to help on this.