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Hong Kong Fire Services Department
Hong Kong Fire Services Department logo.svg
AddressHong Kong Fire Services Headquarters Building,
1 Hong Chong Road,
Tsim Sha Tsui East,
West Kowloon, Hong Kong
Agency overview
Established9 May 1868; 154 years ago (1868-05-09)
Employees11,701
Facilities and equipment
Stations81
Website
www.hkfsd.gov.hk Edit this at Wikidata
Hong Kong Fire Services Department
Traditional Chinese消防處
Simplified Chinese消防处

The Hong Kong Fire Services Department is an emergency service responsible for firefighting 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. It is under the Secretary for Security who heads the Security Bureau.

History

Flag of Fire Services Department before 1997. Note the use of the British Crown
Flag of Fire Services Department before 1997. Note the use of the British Crown
Badge 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 9 May 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 1950 the Auxiliary Fire Service Unit was created to establish the Hong Kong Auxiliary Fire Brigade to provide additional manpower to regular fire brigade members under the Essential Services (Auxiliary Fire Service) Corps Regulations.

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

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

Fire and special services

See also: List of fire stations in Hong Kong

Fire Services Headquarters Building [zh] (香港消防處總部大樓)
Fire Services Headquarters Building [zh] (香港消防處總部大樓)

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 81 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

Ambulance services

Main article: Emergency medical services in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Fire Services ambulance
Hong Kong Fire Services ambulance
Mercedes-Benz Axor mobile casualty treatment unit
Mercedes-Benz Axor mobile casualty treatment unit

The Ambulance Command operates from 38 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 81 fire stations.

Communications

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, staffed around 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

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 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

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 1 March 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

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

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 next to the Air Traffic Control Tower) 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

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 Stonecutter's Island for treating patients with 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

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

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

There are altogether 81 fire stations, 37 ambulance depots and six fireboat 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

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

Scania Pumper
Scania Pumper

The Fire Services Department of Hong Kong is a force of 8,000-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.

Major Rescue Unit
Major Rescue Unit
Light Rescue Unit
Light Rescue Unit
High Angle Rescue
High Angle Rescue

Common fire engines in Hong Kong include:

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

Turntable Ladder
Turntable Ladder
Mobile Command Unit
Mobile Command Unit
Hazmat tender
Hazmat tender
Heavy Pump
Heavy Pump

A list of vehicles used in the past and present:

Front view of the funeral Turntable Ladder
Front view of the funeral Turntable Ladder

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

Gear (Incident Uniform)

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.

fire retardant up to 1093c

Superintendents and Chief Fire Officers

Directors of Fire Services

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

Directors appointed (1961–present)
Status Name
 Hong Kong
  1. William James Gorman (1961)
  2. Ronald Godfrey Cox (1961─1965)
  3. Joseph Milner (1965─1970)
  4. Alfred Evelyn Harry Wood OBE (1970─1975)
  5. Frederick Morphet Watson (1975─1983)
  6. Frederick Morphet Watson (1983–1984)
  7. Robert Holmes (1984─1987)
  8. John Howard March (1987─1992) - last British head of the fire service
  9. Lam Chek Yuen (1992–1995) - first local head of the fire service
 Hong Kong
  1. Peter Cheung (1995–1998)
  2. Tsang Kwong Yu (1998–2001)
  3. Hsu King Ping (2001–2003)
  4. Anthony Lam Chun Man (2003 – 6 December 2005)
  5. Kwok Jing Keung, FSDSM, J.P. (7 December 2005 – 2 December 2007)
  6. Lo Chun Hung Gregory, FSDSM, J.P. (3 December 2007 – 30 September 2011)
  7. Andy Chan Chor-kam, FSDSM (1 October 2011 – 23 June 2014)
  8. LAI Man-hin, FSDSM (24 June 2014 – 14 August 2016)
  9. Darryl Li Kin-yat,[1] FSDSM (15 August 2016 – 17 April 2020)
  10. Joseph Leung Wai-hung, FSDSM (18 April 2020 –)

Superintendent of Fire Services

Ranks and insignia

Firefighters

Ambulance

Crest and flag

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

The new crest removed all colonial elements. Laurel wreath was retained. St Edward's Crown was replaced with Bauhinia. The motto changed from the uni-lingual Fire Services - Hong Kong to the bilingual Fire Services Hong Kong (消防). The badge theme changed from a crowned lion holding a pearl to a pair of fire axes and a burning torch

Flag

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

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

See also

References