Hong Kong Fire Services Department

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Hong Kong Fire Services Department
HKFSD.png
Agency Overview
Established 1868
Employees 9,351 (8,675 uniformed and 676 civilian), 2,350 (ambulance service)
Facilities & Equipment
Stations 77
EMS Level ALS

Hong Kong Fire Services Department (HKFSDChinese: 消防處) of the Hong Kong Government is an emergency service responsible for fire-fighting and rescue on land and sea. It also provides an emergency ambulance service for the sick and the injured, and gives fire protection advice to the public.

The Hong Kong Fire Services Department (FSD) is under the Secretary for Security who heads the Security Bureau. Headquarters is located at Fire Services Headquarters Building, 1 Hong Chong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon.

A Dennis Sabre vehicle.

History[edit]

Flag of Fire Services Department before 1997.
Badge of Fire Services Department before 1997.

The history of the Hong Kong Fire Service began in the Government Gazette dated May 9, 1868. Charles May became the first Superintendent of the Fire Brigade. At the time, the Fire Department was part of the Hong Kong Police Force. It had a total strength of 62 with a supplement of 100 Chinese volunteers. The fire department expanded to 140 members during the 1920s. During the Japanese Occupation during the World War II, the Service disbanded. The two fire engines were exported to Tokyo to become part of the Imperial Palace Fire Unit. It was only returned after the War. Unlike Canada, UK and some countries, Hong Kong's ambulance service is tied directly with the Fire Department. At that time all emergency ambulance service was provided by the Fire Service while non-emergency was handled by the Medical Corps.

In 1953, this policy was changed and all Medical Corps vehicles and crew were transferred to the Fire Service. Thus, leading to the creation to the present Ambulance Command. Over the past 50 years it has grown to accommodate 30 ambulance depots, 240 ambulances, 35 motorcycles and 2,350 uniformed staff.

Overview[edit]

The department has 9,351 (8,675 uniformed and 676 civilian) members. It is organised into seven commands - three operational commands, a Licensing and Certification Command, a Fire Safety Command, an Ambulance Command and a Headquarters Command. They are supported by an Administration Division. Commanding the department is the Director of Fire Services.

Organisational Structure[edit]

Fire and special services[edit]

Fire-fighting, rescue and other emergency services are undertaken by the three operational commands - Hong Kong (including marine and off-shore islands), Kowloon and the New Territories. There are 75 fire stations across Hong Kong's 3 operational commands. In 2004, they responded to 35,092 fire calls and 20,059 special service calls. Careless handling or disposal of cigarette ends, matches and candles remained the major causes of fires, followed by incidents involving the preparation of food and electrical faults. Fires claimed nine lives and 451 injuries in 2004. Of the injured, 46 were Fire Services personnel. Special service calls cover a wide range of incidents, including traffic and industrial accidents, gas leakages, landslides, flooding, house collapses, attempts by people to jump from a height and malfunctioning lifts. In 2004, 717 people died and 1,995 others were injured in such incidents. One of the dead and 16 of the injured were Fire Services personnel. The department has 835 operational appliances and vehicles fitted with up-to-date fire-fighting and rescue equipment. The first-line appliances, basically comprising major pumps, hydraulic platforms, light rescue units and turntable ladders/snorkels, are supported where necessary by other special appliances/equipment. A fleet of eight fireboats, including two command boats, one diving support vessel and two diving support speedboats provide fire protection and rescue services within Hong Kong

An ambulance responding to an emergency call.

Ambulance services[edit]

The Ambulance Command operates from 35 depots with 2,350 uniformed staff. The services fleet consists of 268 ambulances, four village ambulances, four mobile casualty treatment centres and 35 paramedic motorcycles. All motorcycles and ambulances are equipped with paramedic facilities to provide paramedic care. In 2004, the Command responded to 574,901 calls, conveying a total of 521,127 patients or casualties to hospitals/clinics, or an average of 1 575 calls a day. There were 106 cases of ambulance personnel sustaining injury whilst on active duty in 2004. Front-line firemen are also trained as first-responders to provide basic life support to casualties and patients before the arrival of an ambulance crew. So far, first-responders are available in 68 fire stations.

Communications[edit]

The Fire Services Communication Centre (FSCC) is equipped with a computerised mobilising system for the efficient and effective mobilising of fire-fighting and ambulance resources for fires and emergencies. It is linked to all fire stations, ambulance depots and fireboat stations for dispatch of resources. The FSCC, manned round the clock, also caters for receipt of complaints and enquiries of fire hazards and dangerous goods. During major incidents, it acts as a co-ordinator for government departments and public utilities. The FSCC has five Mobile Command Units which serve as on-scene command and control centres in major incidents. The Third Generation Mobilising System came into operation in phases starting in the first quarter of 2005. The system's objective is to further enhance the capability and efficiency in mobilisation and communications to meet anticipated growth of emergency calls over the next decade.

Licensing and certification[edit]

The Licensing and Certification Command enforces fire safety regulations and policies, and processes the registration of fire service installation contractors. The Policy Division deals mainly with the formulation of guidelines on fire protection matters, prosecutions, research and approval of portable fire-fighting equipment and gas cylinders. The New Projects Division, in co-operation with the Building Authority and other government departments, is responsible for vetting new building plans including projects on mass transit systems, tunnels, bridges and airport, as well as formulating fire protection requirements appropriate to relevant premises and risks. The Dangerous Goods Division is responsible for the licensing of dangerous goods stores and vehicles, and timber stores. The Fire Service Installations Division and Ventilation Division are responsible for inspecting fire service installations and ventilating systems in buildings respectively. The two regional offices - the Hong Kong and Kowloon West and the New Territories and Kowloon East - are responsible for advising other government authorities on the fire safety measures for the purposes of licensing/registering various types of premises. Officers of the Command are seconded to the Home Affairs Department to inspect hotels, guesthouses, private clubs and bedspace apartments, and formulate fire safety requirements on these premises; whereas some are seconded to the Social Welfare Department to advise on fire protection measures in residential care homes for the elderly.

Fire safety[edit]

The Fire Safety Command assists and advises the public on fire protection measures with the aim of enhancing their fire safety awareness. The Community Relations Division is responsible for promoting fire safety and co-ordinating with other government departments and District Fire Safety Committees in stepping up fire prevention publicity. To promote fire safety awareness at district levels, the Division works closely with local fire stations in organising fire safety talks, seminars, exhibitions, fire drills and training of Fire Safety Ambassadors, who are volunteers from various sectors of the community to raise awareness of fire safety. The Commercial Buildings and Premises Division enforces the Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Ordinance for upgrading fire safety measures in prescribed commercial premises (i.e. supermarkets, department stores, shopping arcades, banks, jewelry or goldsmith premises and off-course betting centres) and specified commercial buildings (i.e. commercial buildings constructed or the plans of building works of which first submitted to the Building Authority for approval on or before March 1, 1987). A Building Safety Loan Scheme has also been established to provide financial assistance to owners of such premises and buildings to upgrade the fire safety measures where necessary. Pending implementation of the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance, the Building Improvement and Support Division continues to inspect old private composite and domestic buildings with a view to enhancing fire safety and advising owners and occupiers concerned on the improved standards to be required. The Fire Service Installation Task Force inspects fire service installations in buildings, handles complaints regarding building fire service installations and monitors the performance of registered fire service installation contractors. The Railway Development Strategy Division scrutinises fire safety strategies and processes building plans of new railway infrastructure projects. It also carries out acceptance tests of fire service installations on completion of those projects. The Theme Park Projects Division formulates fire safety requirements for buildings and other supporting infrastructures in the Hong Kong Disneyland theme park in Penny's Bay. It also carries out acceptance tests on fire service installations upon completion of these works.

Administration and logistic support[edit]

The Headquarters Command offers policy, planning, management and logistic support to the operational commands. It also oversees the operation of Fire Services Communication Centre, Airport Fire Contingent, Fire Services Training School, recruitment and examination, workshops and transport, stores and supplies, diving service, physical training, information and publicity matters, staff welfare and statistics. The Administration Division, staffed by civilians, deals with departmental establishment, personnel, finance, appointments, general matters, staff relations, audit and translation service.

Airport fire contingent[edit]

The primary role of the contingent is to provide rescue and fire fighting coverage for Hong Kong International Airport. The contingent, which comprises two fire stations (one next to DHL Asia Hub and one on Airport Road at Cathay Pacific City) and two sea rescue berths (east and west ends of Chep Lap Kok) at strategic locations on the airport platform, is equipped with 14 fire appliances, two command boats and eight speedboats.

Diving services[edit]

The Diving Unit has a fleet of five diving tenders, one diving support vessel and two diving support speedboats deployed at seven strategic locations throughout Hong Kong, and a three-compartment compression chamber at Ngong Shuen Chau for treating patients suffering from decompression illness and requiring hyperbaric oxygen treatment. It comprises about 150 active divers responsible for maritime search and rescue within Hong Kong waters down to the maximum depth of 42 metres using compressed air diving equipment and underwater breaking-in tools.

Training[edit]

Fire Services Training School (FSTS) provides initial training for recruit fire and ambulance personnel. It also provides refresher and advanced training courses for all fire personnel. Fire Services Ambulance Command Training School (FSACTS) provides initial and paramedic training to recruits and ambulance personnel. It also provides Advanced Ambulance Aid Training at first-responder level to serving fire personnel. The duration of various courses ranges from one day to 26 weeks. The fire and ambulance recruits who have successfully completed the initial training courses will be posted to fire stations and ambulance depots respectively to continue their on-the-job training in order to gain field experience. Apart from providing training for staff of other government departments, private organisations and overseas fire officers, FSTS also runs Youth Pre-employment Training Programmes and Smart Teen Challenge Camps for youngsters jointly with the Labour Department and the Education and Manpower Bureau respectively. FSACTS also provides initial and refresher training on cardio-pulmonary resuscitation to members of the public. In addition to overseas training on latest fire services technology and management skills, officers and instructors also attend various advanced courses conducted by overseas fire professionals in Hong Kong.

Workshops[edit]

The Workshops Division is responsible for all engineering matters relating to fire appliances, fire-fighting and rescue equipment. These include design, development, procurement, inspection and maintenance, fitting out, modification, testing and commissioning.

Response times[edit]

There are altogether 80 fire stations, 37 ambulance depots and six fireboat fire stations. They are strategically located to provide an emergency response for all areas. The graded response times for building fire calls are six minutes for built-up areas and nine to 23 minutes for areas of dispersed risks and isolated developments. For emergency ambulance services, the target response time is 12 minutes. The performance target is to achieve these response times in 92.5% of all calls. In 2004, 94.06% of building fire calls and 91.08% of emergency ambulance calls were responded to within the respective target response times.

Public liaison group[edit]

The group which comprises 30 members of the public from all walks of life monitors and improves the delivery of the department's public services. It helps foster better understanding between the public and the department.

Equipment[edit]

The Fire Services Department of Hong Kong is a force of 8000-plus firefighters serving one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world. They served under the British before 1997 and are equipped much like their counterparts in the United Kingdom. While most cities' high-rise buildings are concentrated in their commercial areas in the central business districts, they are ubiquitous in Hong Kong. Most residential buildings in this very crowded Asian metropolis are more than twenty storeys tall, with some reaching forty or fifty storeys and the tallest over seventy. Thanks to strict fire code and the use of non-flammable materials, severe structural fires are rare. The Fire Services Department is nonetheless equipped with a significant quantity of hydraulic platforms and possesses some of the tallest ladder platforms in the world. Common fire engines in Hong Kong include:

  • Hydraulic Platforms: Carry out firefighting and rescue at elevated levels - similar of snorkel, aerial tower or cherry pickers used in North America
  • Major Pumpers: Basically Type B Water Tenders that provide water supply - called pumpers in North America
  • Turntable Ladder: Similar to Hydraulic Platforms but they use telescopic ladders instead of hydraulic platforms and are better suited for high level rescue - called aerial in North America
  • Light Rescue Units: First strike fire appliances, equipped with varieties of rescue equipments
  • Major Rescue Units: Also serve as light rescue units but are capable of special missions when teamed up with the rescue tenders
  • Mobile Command Units: Field command center
  • Rescue Tenders: Perform rescue missions in major disasters
  • Hazmat Tenders: Hazardous materials handling
  • Hazmat Pods: Equipped with radioactivity detectors, protective aprons and decontaminating tools, Hazmat Pods are used in nuclear/biohazardous incidents.
  • Lighting Tenders: Provide lighting
  • Hose Tenders: Carry hoses for water relay
  • Light Pumping Appliances: Perform pumping or rescue operations when area is inaccessible to major appliances
  • Reserve Heavy Pumps: Conduct water relay and pumping in remote areas or major fires
  • Snorkels: Perform rescue operations at 26-30 m.
  • Aerial Ladder Platforms (ALP): Carry a telescopic ladder and capable of reaching 47-53 m

The following appliances are mainly deployed to the airport and stations close to fuel depots:

  • First Intervention Vehicle: Carries foam and water and capable of discharging 6000 litres per minute
  • Foam Tenders: Carry out oil fuel fire fighting with foam and foam concentrate transportation
  • Bulk Foam Tender: Supply foam concentrate, pre-mixed foam solution for First Intervention Vehicle for prolonged fuel oil fire fighting
  • Jackless Snorkel: Equipped with a piercing nozzle that can pierce through the fuselage of airplanes and discharge foam in cabin. The FSD introduced this to prepare for the commencement of the Airbus A380.

A list of vehicles used in the past and present:

For funerals Turntable Ladder with turntable unit removed is used to carry the coffin.

Gear (Incident Uniform)[edit]

  • Pacific F3D fire helmet - all fire crews
  • USAR rescue helmet - for urban search teams
  • EMS rescue helmet - for ambulance personnel

For other ranks, the name of the station are printed on both sides of the helmet e.g. Shek Kip Mei - SKM on the sides of the helmet. All station names abbreviations are in letters form. However, this does not apply to officers as their rank is shown by stars and pipes on the side of their helmet, unlike other ranks who display their rank as thin lines on their helmets.

  • Nomex protection hood
  • PBI Matrix Structural Firefighting protection tunic/overtrousrs (2010-)

fire retardant up to 1093c Use for incidents which fire/explosion may arise

  • Proban fire retardant tunic/overtrousers

fire retardant up to 260c Use for lift entrapment, traffic accident, vegetation fires

Directors of Fire Services[edit]

The Director of Fire Services was created in 1961 and replaced the role of Chief Fire Officer and Superintendent of Fire Services:

  • William James Gorman (1961)
  • Ronald Godfrey Cox (1961─1965)
  • Joseph Milner (1965─1970)
  • Alfred Evelyn Harry Wood OBE (1970─1975)
  • Frederick Morphet Watson (1975─1983)
  • Frederick Morphet Watson (1983–1984)
  • Robert Holmes (1984─1987)
  • John Howard March (1987─1992) - last British head of the fire service
  • Lam Chek Yuen (1992–1995) - first local head of the fire service
  • Peter Cheung (1995–1998)  Hong Kong
  • Tsang Kwong Yu (1998–2001)  Hong Kong
  • Hsu King Ping (2001–2003)  Hong Kong
  • Anthony Lam Chun Man (2003 - December 6, 2005)  Hong Kong
  • Kwok Jing Keung, FSDSM, J.P. (December 7, 2005 - December 2, 2007)  Hong Kong
  • Lo Chun Hung Gregory, FSDSM, J.P. (December 3, 2007 - September 30, 2011)  Hong Kong
  • Andy Chan Chor-kam, FSDSM (October 1, 2011 - June 23, 2014)  Hong Kong
  • LAI Man-hin, FSDSM (June 24, 2014 - )[1]  Hong Kong

Superintendent of Fire Services[edit]

Rank[edit]

Command

  • Director of Fire Services
    • Deputy Director of Fire Services
  • Chief Fire Officer
    • Deputy Chief Fire Officer
  • Chief Ambulance Officer
    • Deputy Chief Ambulance Officer
      • Senior Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer
          • Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer
  • Senior Divisional Officer
    • Divisional Officer
      • Assistant Divisional Officer
  • Ambulance Superintendent

Senior Officers

  • Senior Station Officer
  • Senior Ambulance Officer

Officers

  • Station Officer
  • Ambulance Officer
  • Probationary Station Officer

Other

  • Principal Fireman
  • Principal Ambulanceman
  • Senior Fireman
  • Senior Ambulanceman
  • Fireman
  • Ambulanceman

Crest and Flag[edit]

The current Fire Service crest was adopted in 1997 to replace the pre-handover crest due to presence of colonial elements. The changes impacted both uniforms (lapels, buttons, helmets, caps), vehicles, flags and other signage.

Crest[edit]

The new crest removed all colonial elements:

  • St Edward's Crown was replaced with Bauhinia
  • Laurel wreath was retained
  • Motto changed from the uni-lingual Fire Services - Hong Kong to the bilingual Fire Services Hong Kong (消防)
  • Badge theme changed from a crowned lion holding a pearl to a pair of fire axes and a burning torch

Flag[edit]

As the crest was also used on the flag, it too was changed in 1997. The old red flag was replaced by a purple flag with the new crest. This flag is only flown at Headquarters, whereas the Flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region flies at all fire stations.

Source: Hong Kong Fire Services Department

Fire Services on TV and film[edit]

The FS has been portrayed in a number of Hong Kong TV series and films:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]