MR YUNNOS Shariff was waiting to be accepted into the Singapore Fire Brigade in 1961 when one of the island's biggest fires broke out.

The Bukit Ho Swee fire dampened the then 19-year-old's will to become a firefighter.

Fresh out of school, Mr Yunnos was with friends in the area when they saw the fire. He was terrified by the raging inferno which killed four people and left thousands homeless. "The flames looked like they were jumping so quickly from one place to another... people were helpless and screaming and I had second thoughts about being a fireman," recalled the 69-year- old.

But Mr Yunnos, whose father and two older brothers were firefighters, joined the brigade and went on to serve for 41 years.

"To witness people, many who were strangers, helping one another and even the firemen to put out the fire convinced me that it was the right thing to do," he said.

His story will be one of a few first-hand accounts to be told of the inferno in an exhibition from the end of this year.

The showcase, which is curated by the National Heritage Board (NHB), aims to teach people values such as fighting spirit and resilience through Singapore's major historical events or crises.

The Bukit Ho Swee display, which will feature multimedia presentations and a slew of public talks, is the second in the board's Resilience Through Heritage series.

The first, on the Hotel New World collapse in 1986, was launched in June this year and is making its rounds islandwide.

The month-long display will be put up in five venues, including the libraries in Geylang East and Bedok.

NHB's heritage institutions director Alvin Tan said that of the 30,500 visitors to the first exhibition who were polled, 97 per cent said it helped them to understand the importance of national resilience.

Also in the pipeline is a display on how Singapore bounced back from the Sars outbreak in 2003, added Mr Tan.