Year-end Review of Fire Services Department
is the full text of the speech by the Director of Fire Services,
Mr. KWOK Jing-keung, at the department's year-end review for
2005 today (January 17):
from the Press,
Welcome you all to today's press conference. I would like
to give you a general review of the work of the Fire Services
Department in the three major programme areas in 2005, and
then the way forward of our future development.
and Rescue Service
In 2005, there were a total of 37,741 fire calls, an
increase of 2,649 or 7.5% when compared with 35,092
calls in 2004. False alarms surged by 4,022 cases, mainly
because there were many days of unstable weather. There
were 4,884 fires caused by human factors, representing
a drop of 1,562 cases. Such cases were commonly caused
by welding sparks, children playing with fire, careless
handling of the fire of cooking stoves, disposal of
joss sticks, joss paper and candles, as well as careless
handling or disposal of ignition sources.
year, 89.17% of building fires were handled within the
graded response time of six minutes. There were a total
of 3,481 cases in which fire appliances could not reach
the scenes within the target response time, due mainly
to the increase in fire calls and traffic congestion.
Other factors included the operational problems of the
Third Generation Mobilising System in the initial stage,
long travel distance and inclement weather.
The total number of No. 3 or above alarm fires was six.
A relatively notable No. 4 alarm fire occurred at a
high-rise building under construction in West Kowloon.
As the fire scene was on the 45th floor of the building
where there was a large quantity of construction materials
and timber formwork, the fire spread quickly. Worse
still, there was power failure in the construction site
during the fire. As a result, the operation of the temporary
booster pumps was affected and the firemen had to lay
hoses and deliver light pumps to the upper floors for
fighting the blaze.
claimed 15 lives last year, with 363 people injured
but fortunately 3,834 were rescued. The number of injured
was lower than that of the previous year which stood
at 405. Four Fire Services members were injured in the
course of fire-fighting.
people died in residential building fires last year.
Some of the fires were believed to have been caused
by excessive storage of unwanted articles. We responded
promptly by stepping up publicity to remind the community
of the importance of fire safety at home. Household
fire safety was also highlighted in this year’s fire
for special service calls, 20,813 cases were recorded,
representing an increase of 3.8% (i.e. 754 cases) as
compared with 20,059 cases in 2004, mainly because the
number of “shut-in-lift” cases caused by power failure
and mechanical failure rose by 559 and the number of
false alarms with good intent increased by 447.
fire-fighting and rescue duties, members of the Operational
Commands have to take up more extra duties. During the
year, the three Operational Commands conducted 344 inspections
of hospitals and clinics, and 3,187 follow-up inspections
of fire service installations. In addition, a total
of 423 consultations or talks for hospitals and clinics
were held. In response to the cases involving obstruction
to means of escape and locking of exits, a total of
571 Fire Hazard Abatement Notices were issued and 54
related prosecutions were instituted. Starting from
last year, members of the Operational Commands have
also taken up inspections of fire safety requirements
at places or premises for issuance of temporary public
entertainment establishment licences and renewal of
dangerous goods store licences.
The First Responder Programme has been implemented for
two years. Last year, First Responders attended 13,751
cases. This programme will be further extended, and
it is expected that a second fire appliance in each
of the 64 selected fire stations will be manned by First
Fire Services (Amendment) Ordinance 2003 and the Fire
Services (Fire Hazard Abatement) Regulations have come
into effect on 1 January 2003. The new legislation confers
on Fire Services personnel more power to investigate
fires and combat illegal refueling activities. Last
year, the number of prosecution cases related to the
new legislation amounted to 175. Among the successful
prosecutions, the maximum fine and maximum penalty upon
conviction were $20,000 and 6-month imprisonment respectively.
In order to make the provisions under the Dangerous
Goods Ordinance (including those relating to the classification,
labeling and packing of dangerous goods) tally fully
with international standards, we are now working with
the Security Bureau and Department of Justice on the
amendments to the subsidiary regulations under the Ordinance.
It is expected that the proposed amendments will be
submitted to the Executive Council for discussion within
regards enforcement, we conducted a total of 170,675
fire safety inspections last year, which included acceptance
tests on fire services equipment and installations,
inspection of food premises, schools/child care centres/places
of public entertainment/drug treatment centres, handling
of complaints about dangerous goods and checks on fire
escapes and ventilation systems, etc.
Last year, together with the licensing authority, we
stepped up our communication with the trade, and put
forward a series of improvement measures in licensing
procedures. The time for processing various types of
licence applications has been shortened. For instance,
the time required for issuing fire safety requirements
for “food factory”, “child care centre”, etc., was 24
to 30 working days in the past. With effect from 1 January
2006, it is shortened to within 20 working days.
We are examining the various aspects of a Third Party
Certification Scheme, under which fire service installation
testing and certification will be taken up by a professional
third party in a bid to step up the certification procedure.
Aspects under study include the criteria for qualified
personnel, arrangements for implementation, systems
of monitoring and necessary amendments to related Fire
The year 2005 saw a continuous extension of the Fire
Safety Ambassador Scheme to district level. A total
of 10,710 Fire Safety Ambassadors were recruited last
year, among them 265 were trained as Fire Safety Ambassador
Trainers. Furthermore, the Fire Safety Ambassador Honorary
President Scheme has been launched, with the main objective
of promoting the Fire Safety Ambassador Scheme and its
activities through the assistance of community leaders.
Yau Tsim Mong District was the first district to implement
the scheme in January 2005. Up till the end of 2005,
eight District Fire Safety Ambassador Honorary President
Associations have been established, namely, Yau Tsim
Mong, Wong Tai Sin, Sham Shui Po, Kwun Tong, Kowloon
City, the North District, Sha Tin and Wan Chai, with
a total of 96 Honorary Presidents appointed. We will
continue to extend the scheme to the remaining 10 districts
in the future.
In 2005, we promoted fire safety messages through various
activities, which included large-scale fire safety carnivals,
open days, talks, quizzes, etc., so as to have direct
communication with the community in an interactive manner.
Furthermore, we disseminated fire safety messages to
various strata of the community via diverse channels,
such as television publicity, radio broadcasting and
the internet. We will continue to step up fire safety
publicity by working closely with the District Fire
has been good progress in improving the fire safety
of old commercial buildings. Last year, inspections
of 190 prescribed commercial premises and 148 specified
commercial buildings were conducted. A total of 950
Fire Safety Directions and 5,801 Fire Safety Improvement
Directions were issued. As the Fire Safety (Buildings)
Ordinance has not been put into effect, the Department,
in the interim, can only advise the owners or occupiers
of composite buildings to consider including fire
safety installation improvement works in their large-scale
maintenance plans. Last year, a total of 900 composite
buildings were inspected and advisory letters were
issued to the owners or occupiers concerned.
Last year, the total number of ambulance calls was 584,882,
i.e. a daily average of 1,602. Among which, the number
of emergency calls was 549,866, representing an increase
of 2.5%; and the number of urgent calls was 34,175,
representing a decrease of 8%.
regards our performance pledge, 89.6% of emergency ambulance
calls in 2005 were handled within our target response
time of 12 minutes. The increased number of calls, weather
and long travel distance were reasons why the performance
fell short of the target. The initial performance of
the Third Generation Mobilising System also had a bearing.
However, judging from the figures in the last three
months, there has been an improvement in the target
scheduled, full paramedic ambulance service has been
implemented since March. In other words, all ambulances
are manned by ambulance personnel with Emergency Medical
Assistant II qualifications.
construction of the new depots at Mong Kok and Kwai
Chung is complete. They will be commissioned in mid-January
and early February respectively.
Plans for the Coming Year
Department has applied for the approval of open recruitment
of over 300 posts in 2006-07 to fill vacancies and to
meet service demands.
December 2005, the Security Bureau has set up a Priority
Dispatch System Steering Committee to scrutinise the
results and recommendations of the consultancy. The
Committee comprises Fire Services personnel, Legislative
Councillors, emergency treatment experts and academics,
and representatives from various Fire Services unions.
Public consultation will be conducted once the Committee
has come up with concrete proposals.
Security Bureau, Hospital Authority, Auxiliary Medical
Service and the Fire Services Department are discussing
on plans to pass on part of the urgent transfer service
between hospitals to the AMS, so that ambulance personnel
can concentrate more on emergency ambulance services.
improve emergency ambulance services, the Department
plans to commission a customer satisfaction survey to
gain a better understanding of public needs, in the
hope that the best possible service will be provided.
West Kowloon Rescue Training Centre is now under construction
and it will be commissioned in mid-2006. Four different
types of advanced fire rigs and a series of excellent
training facilities will be available in the Centre.
Fire Services personnel will receive training in a simulated
real-fire environment so as to enhance overall operational
funding application will be submitted to the Finance
Committee of the Legislative Council for the provision
of a diving training centre within this financial year.
If approval is granted, the construction will commence
by the end of this year. In the future, the Department
can provide a safe and well-equipped training environment
for staff members who aspire to join the diving rescue
We will continue to adopt ways for improving the work
environment and measures for quality management in a
bid to improve the efficiency of various units. A pilot
scheme was launched in several units last year. This
year, 44 units have been selected to join the scheme.
Department is now considering to extend the service
scope of the Fire Services volunteer team to provide
basic after-fire renovation service to fire victims
to help them rebuild their homes. This meaningful service
has gained initial support from our staff. Detailed
arrangements are being worked out.
Department will jointly hold the 9th World Firefighters
Games in February with the Institution of Fire Engineers
(Hong Kong Branch). Up till now, over 1,400 participants
from more than 30 overseas countries/ regions have signed
up for the Games. Some of them will also attend the
international fire conference to be held three days
prior to the Games. The preparation work is underway
January 17, 2006