Hi-tech fireboat brings fleet up to date

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 November, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 November, 1995, 12:00am

ADVANCED technology is being installed in fire service boats to cope with a larger workload as the harbour becomes more congested.

The Fire Services Department is to introduce a deep water 'robot' to aid divers.

They are also equipping new fireboats with global positioning systems and night vision equipment.

New technology was necessary because of an increase in incidents at sea in the past three years, said Fung Kam-wah, Senior Divisional Officer in the marine section of the fire department.

Sea traffic was becoming more congested. With the construction of the new airport and increasing commercial activity between Hong Kong and China, the trend was likely to continue.

Mr Fung was speaking at yesterday's commissioning ceremony in Sai Kung's Joss House Bay of the department's new 30-metre Fireboat 2, which will replace a 36-year-old vessel.

Fireboat 2 is equipped with a Remote Operated Vehicle Underwater Camera, a 'robot' which can dive to 50 metres and transmit pictures to the boat through its in-built video.

Mr Fung said divers, for safety reasons, could work in 15 metres of water for only a short period, but now the robot could locate an object and save time.

The department has six fireboats and plans to introduce two more in 1998. Two fireboats at Kai Tak will be replaced by larger ones when the new airport opens.

Statistics revealed yesterday showed that the department's six fireboats had been called out to 986 incidents from January 1993 to October this year.

Of these, 78 were fires, in which three people died, while 117 were other serious incidents such as collisions, which resulted in 24 deaths and 68 injuries.

For the first 10 months of this year, there had been two fewer calls than the whole of last year, when there were 41, up from 37 in 1993.