Year-end Review of the Fire Services Department
Following is the speech by the Director of Fire Services,
Mr Lo Chun-hung, at the department's 2009 Year-end Review
today (21 January, 2010):
retrospect, 2009 was a year of new challenges to the Fire
Services Department (FSD) in the light of continued social
developments. However, with the unswerving professionalism
of the service members, who have adhered to the principle
of serving the community with full dedication and professional
excellence, we managed to provide quality fire-fighting, rescue,
fire prevention and ambulance services to the community, despite
all kinds of challenges and difficulties.
Fire-fighting and Rescue Service Video
In 2009, there
were a total of 35,771 fire calls, somewhat similar to 35,513
in 2008. The number of No.3 or above alarm fires decreased
from 18 in 2008 to 10 last year.
Last year, 95.6% of building fires were handled within the
graded response time, which was 3% higher than our performance
pledge of 92.5%.
Last year, 10 persons lost their lives in fire incidents;
271 persons were injured, and 2,901 rescued.
Last year, the total number of special service calls was 25,069,
representing an increase of 2.8% (671 cases) as against 24,398
in 2008. In one notable industrial accident that happened
on 13 September last year in the International Commerce Centre
which was under construction in Tsim Sha Tsui, six workmen
were killed. In another incident, a double-decker overturned
in Tong Ming Street, Tseung Kwan O on 9 November last year,
killing two persons and injuring 34.
A total of 43,619 counts of First Responder service were rendered
by frontline fire personnel last year and 32,883 patients/casualties
were treated. Among them, 34 who had appeared to have no breath
or pulse were resuscitated.
The department has made efforts in further strengthening its
work in fire safety to meet increasing public expectation.
As regards fire protection, we conducted a total of 240,845
inspections last year, representing an increase of 26.6% (50,549
inspections) as against 2008 (190,296). The inspections were
conducted to ensure fire safety in relation to fire services
installations, fire escapes, ventilation systems and licensed
premises. Inspections were also conducted in response to complaints
about dangerous goods.
There has been grave public concern about the malfunction
and poor maintenance of fire services installations. In 2009,
we conducted a total of 151,015 inspections on such installations,
representing an increase of about 40.2 % (43,298 inspections)
as against 2008 (107,717). A total of 2,479 FHANs were issued
and 17 prosecutions instituted.
Moreover, the public have also expressed deep concern for
fire safety in licensed establishments and old buildings.
In order to further enhance fire safety in licensed establishments,
inspections of these premises are done from time to time.
We have also launched a number of joint operations with relevant
Government Departments to inspect Karaokes, upstairs bars,
upstairs cafes and unlicensed guest houses. Last year, a total
of 39,178 inspections of these premises were carried out with
916 “Fire Hazard Abatement Notices” (FHANs) issued and 44
To enhance public concern for the buildings in which they
live or work and to assist us in improving building fire safety,
a “Building Fire Safety Envoy Scheme” has been on trial since
the end of 2008. Under the Scheme, owners or occupiers of
buildings and staff of property management companies are invited
to become “envoys”. Upon completion of a training course,
they can carry out four functions, namely, disseminating fire
safety messages to occupants of their buildings; assisting
in organising fire drills; inspecting and reporting fire hazard
or irregularities and ensuring that the fire services installations
of their buildings are properly checked every year. At present,
a total of 231 are enrolled as Building Fire Safety Envoys.
The result is very encouraging.
In order to eliminate hidden fire hazards in old buildings
in an effective and comprehensive manner, the Fire Services
Department started to adopt a brand new “four-pronged” approach
at the end of 2008. The four prongs are: firstly, inviting
District Fire Safety Committees, FSAs and the FSA Honorary
Presidents to promote fire safety in those old buildings;
secondly, setting up a Special Enforcement Unit (SEU) through
internal re-deployment to step up inspections of old buildings
and take law enforcement actions to eradicate potential fire
hazards in each and every building; thirdly, after the potential
fire hazards of a particular building are removed, the building
should be under regular inspection by Fire Officers in the
district; fourthly, the “Building Fire Safety Envoy” of that
building will also conduct frequent inspections to ensure
that such irregularities will never appear again. The Department
has identified some target buildings with constant fire hazards
in densely-populated areas like Yau Ma Tei, Tsim Sha Tsui,
Mong Kok and Wanchai, to implement the “four-pronged approach”,
in a bid to enhance the fire safety standard of the buildings
by removing all fire hazards in every possible way. Up to
the present moment, 20 buildings have completed all the “four
prongs”. Generally speaking, buildings which have undergone
this approach can manage to be free from potential fire hazards
most of the time. It can be seen that the plan has made initial
success. In addition, in respect of the stepping-up of law
enforcement, the SEU has issued 798 FHANs and instituted 11
prosecutions in 2009.
We have continued to promote fire protection through various
activities to enhance public awareness of fire safety. Last
year, we organised the first “Fire Protection Drama Competition
for Secondary Students”, hoping that students will learn more
about fire safety through the process of information collection,
play writing and staging, and that they will disseminate the
message of fire safety in schools and at homes. Moreover,
we once again broadcast the "Fire Prevention Campaign
09" on television last year, so as to widely spread the
message of fire safety to different strata of the community.
The viewing rate of this programme reached 1.3 million.
In 2009, the department received 659,289 ambulance calls,
meaning a daily average of 1,806 calls, and an increase of
2.4% (15 678 calls) as against 2008.
In 2009, 92% of all emergency calls were handled within our
target response time of 12 minutes.
To make continuous improvement in our ambulance service, we
have implemented various new measures last year, which mainly
(i) Stepping up education and publicity to remind the public
not to misuse emergency ambulance service. Apart from community
publicity work, the department, through television cooperation,
produced a one-hour special programme entitled “Ambulance
Service Campaign 2009”. The programme was shown on 5 September
2009, with a successful viewing rate of about 1.1 million.
(ii) According to a random analysis of about 10,000 emergency
ambulance calls received in 2008, around 10% of the cases
did not appear to be in need of emergency ambulance service.
The data collected will be used in public educational activities.
(iii) To ensure that the performance target could be achieved
in all Divisions, the department redeployed resources and
allocated new ambulance shifts to areas in greatest demand.
Additional measures included the setting-up of temporary ambulance
stand-by points in Kwu Tung, Sheung Shui and Ta Kwu Ling,
so as to enhance ambulance coverage for New Territories.
(iv) Among 196 ambulances scheduled for replacement, 113 were
put into service in 2009. The average age of the entire ambulance
fleet has come down significantly from 8.4 as at the end of
2008 to 4.7 as at the end of 2009. We expect that when all
the 196 ambulances are put into service at the end of this
year, the average age of our ambulances will be further lowered
to less than two years. Furthermore, additional funds are
obtained to procure 21 new ambulances and create 120 ambulanceman/ambulancewoman
posts. The department will also speed up the process of procuring
ambulances whereby the time from bidding of resources to delivery
of ambulances to Hong Kong will be shortened to 25 months,
a remarkable reduction of 8 months.
(v) We have launched an electronic Ambulance Journey Records
System on a trial basis on Hong Kong Island since the end
of 2009. The trial will be extended to Kowloon and New Territories
in mid-2010. It is expected that the new system will greatly
improve the efficiency of quality management.
To further improve our ambulance service, we have introduced
a brand-new Emergency Medical Assistance II Motorcycle which
will be shown to you in a moment.
of Emergency Medical Assistant II Motorcycle
To enhance the emergency ambulance services in the long run,
the Administration has planned to implement a “Medical Priority
Dispatch System” (MPDS) in Hong Kong. To this end, a public
consultation was conducted in 2009 and over 560 submissions
were received. According to the result of the consultation,
a majority of the public expressed their support of the principles
of the MPDS. About 80% of the respondents supported prioritizing
response to ambulance calls in accordance with degree of urgency;
over 70% of the respondents supported the proposed Target
Response Time and Performance Pledge of the three response
modes; and over 70% of the respondents considered it useful
to provide post-dispatch instructions. The data collected
will be under further analysis and study, so as to decide
on the implementation details of the scheme with a view to
further enhancing the standard of emergency ambulance service.
During consultation, the public somewhat had some queries
about the MPDS. To this end, we would like to take today’s
opportunity to deliver a brief introduction and demonstration
in a moment.
The department has launched the Heart Saver Scheme since 2007.
With favourable public support, we have provided training
on the use of public access defibrillators to staff of a number
of organisations in various sectors. As at the end of 2009,
a total of 3,150 qualified persons have been appointed heart
Plans in the Year
As our analogue-mode trunked radio system has been in use
for over a decade, we are planning to replace it with a digital
one to enhance the voice quality and communication capabilities.
As funds have been approved and the tendering exercise is
underway, it is expected that the new radio system can be
commissioned in mid-2011.
To continuously enhance our efficiency in fire-fighting and
rescue operations, we strive to provide advanced skill training
for our frontline staff. Regular staff training programmes
range from Conduit Search and Rescue, Compartment Fire, Advanced
Ambulance Aid to Basic Special Rescue Squad Training which
includes Mountain Rescue, Road Rescue, Rapid Water Rescue
and High Angle Rescue. In addition, with an aim to strengthening
our ability in handling HazMat incidents, we will provide
relevant training for a number of members and plan to set
up a HazMat Task Force within this year.
of High Angle Rescue
of Road Traffic Accident
of Automatic Oscillation Ground Monitor
of New Hydraulic Platform
of New 37m Turntable Ladder
Construction of a new Fire Services Training School of international
standards at Pak Shing Kok, Tseung Kwan O, occupying a site
of over ten hectares, is in the pipeline. Relevant arrangements
and implementation plans are being drawn up in collaboration
with other departments concerned. An application for change
of land use will later be submitted to the Town Planning Board.
The Department will also seek funding from the Administration.
If everything goes well, it is estimated that the project
will be completed in three years upon approval of funds.
With the continual population growth,
large-scale infrastructural projects will be rolled out one
by one. In view of this latest development, the demand for
fire and ambulance services has been evaluated from time to
time. We have planned to construct a new fire station with
ambulance facilities on Nam Fung Road, Aberdeen and in the
Kai Tak Development Area respectively. A new ambulance depot
will also be constructed in Sheung Shui. Furthermore, Lai
Chi Kok Ambulance Depot, located at Mei Lai Road, Mei Foo,
will be commissioned in mid-2010.
On the other hand, we have installed a Quality Assurance System
for paramedic ambulance service. This computer-aided system
is characterised by the automatic data retrieval function
by which service quality will be monitored. The system will
be put on trial this year.
In respect of diving training, the diving base on Stonecutters
Island has been in use since its completion in 2009. Advanced
equipment for diving training is in place for our diving personnel
to conduct more professional diving training. We will invite
you to visit the diving base shortly.
To enhance the operational efficiency of our frontline staff
and to meet occupational safety and health requirements, we
have spared no efforts in improving the uniforms and equipment
provided for our staff. The newly designed orange jackets
for ambulancemen have been distributed for use early in the
year under review. The beret caps currently in use will also
be replaced by peaked caps with a brand new design. We will
show them to you later.
of Orange Jacket for Ambulance Personnel and Baseball Cap
We have recruited a total of 516 Fire and Ambulance personnel
in 2009-10, including 61 Station Officers, 11 Ambulance Officers,
two Station Officers (Control), 15 Senior Firemen (Control),
200 Firemen and 227 Ambulancemen to fill vacancies and meet
service demand. We shall continue to conduct recruitment exercises
to fill expected vacancies arising from natural wastage and
newly-created posts in the coming financial year (i.e. 2010-11).
Our efforts in providing quality service for the public have
gained great social recognition. In the Civil Service Outstanding
Service Award Scheme organised by the Civil Service Bureau,
we won a total of five awards, including the Gold Award for
Best Public Image - the fifth time in a row as well as the
Champion of the Service Enhancement Award - for two consecutive
exercises. The championship was mainly attributable to various
innovative initiatives in the past two years, including the
Building Fire Safety Envoy Scheme and the Heart Saver Scheme
mentioned just now, which aim to further enhance our service
quality. The Department also received three Partnership Awards
- one First Runner-up and two Merit Awards. Furthermore, subsequent
to the winning of the Silver Award in the Customer Service
Excellence Award 2008 organised by the Hong Kong Association
for Customer Service Excellence, we have also participated
in the 2009 exercise, the results of which will soon be announced.
We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the public
for their unfailing support, which has contributed to our
achievements mentioned above. Yet, we will never be contented
with these accomplishments. Instead, we will continue to strive
for excellence with remarkable professionalism in delivering
quality services to the public.
The Lunar New Year is coming in less than a month’s time.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, healthy
and prosperous Year of the Tiger.
January 21, 2010