Assistant security manager saves hotel guest from fire, gets award for bravery

SINGAPORE – Hotel staff who had to deal with a room set on fire by a suicidal guest, a man assaulting a woman, and a menacing drunk guest have been honoured for their bravery.

They are among 20 recipients – from 10 hotels – of the Hotel Security Awards on Thursday (Oct 28).

One of the winners, assistant security manager Yahaya Abdul Rahman, 29, was settling routine paperwork on a Monday morning in February this year in Jen Singapore Tanglin when the fire alarm went off.

He and two colleagues saw smoke pouring out from under the door of one of the guest rooms.

When he knocked on the door and the occupant admitted he had set off a fire in a suicide attempt, Mr Yahaya immediately used a master key to gain entry.

“I didn’t know what to expect going in, where the fire was going to be, and if the guest was going to hurt himself. It was a chaotic moment,” said Mr Yahaya, who was in charge of the hotel’s emergency response team that day.

“But I knew I had to stay calm and not panic to keep the situation under control.”

On entering, he was shocked to see the bed, smoke detector on the wall and a door on fire. Piles of towels, paper towels, dry food and rubbish were burning.

Apologising, the guest in distress tried to smother the flames with his hand and Mr Yahaya firmly told him to step aside.

He fought the blaze using a fire extinguisher and told his staff to keep other hotel guests in their rooms and call the Singapore Civil Defence Force and police.

He then led the guest to another room.

Mr Yahaya told The Straits Times that the incident has left the deepest mark on him in his seven years in the hotel. He said: “I was sad the guest wanted to end his life but relieved that I managed to save him in time.

“If we arrived just one minute later, it might have been too late.”

The hotel security awards, which was held virtually and attended by Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan, is jointly organised by the Singapore Hotel Association, the police and National Crime Prevention Council.

The annual event, which was called off last year due to the pandemic, recognises acts of bravery, honesty and resilience.

Another employee who received the bravery award is Ms Choo Su Qi, 31, assistant front office manager at Orchard Rendezvous Hotel Singapore.

Ms Choo Su Qi, assistant front office manager at Orchard Rendezvous Hotel Singapore, also received the bravery award. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

She was just taking over the night shift last year from the duty manager when a bellboy informed her that two female patrons of the hotel restaurant were arguing outside the hotel entrance.

Ms Choo saw a man pinning a woman down on the ground with his knees. The woman was struggling and yelling in Mandarin: “Let me go.”

The pair was surrounded by two other people who did not intervene.

Ms Choo quickly reacted, telling the man that she had called the police and that he had to let the woman go. After a few seconds, he cooperated.

Ms Choo then called the police. “As a woman, I felt a strong sense of injustice towards the lady who was being put in a compromised position in public. I had to intervene as it’s just not something that I can look away from,” she said.

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Guest service executive Amitpal Singh, 39, was also on the night shift with his colleague last year at Village Hotel Sentosa when an intoxicated man wandered into the lobby at 4.30am.

Dishevelled and swaying on his feet, he appeared angry and shouted incoherently. He approached the counter and walked behind it, putting himself near Mr Singh’s female colleague.

The duty manager tried to keep her distance but he kept moving towards her, staring at her and swinging his hands in a threatening way.

That was when Mr Singh stepped in between them. “In that situation, it was do or don’t,” he said. “I didn’t want to wait for something to happen.”

He told the man to back off. At this, the man sobered up slightly.

Mr Singh alerted the hotel’s security staff, and kept watch on the man until they arrived to escort him to his room.

“I was worried as I’m relatively small and don’t pack a punch, but the safety of my colleague was more important,” said Mr Singh, who was also given the bravery award. “Anything could have happened but it was a chance I had to take. So I stood my ground.”

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