Fire engines' actions confuse motorists

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 September, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 September, 2001, 12:00am

I would like to thank Lau Shu-lam, for Director of Fire Services, for responding (South China Morning Post, September 12) to my letter of September 4, regarding the use of a fire engine's emergency lights. I now fully understand the background behind the incident I reported on September 4, as I know the vehicle went to Sai Kung as a relief unit.

I will be happy to contact Mr Lau to discuss this particular case, but there is a wider issue of concern. The problem is not whether this particular incident was right or wrong, but whether operating procedures are correct.

The Fire Services Department categorises the transfer of one unit to a different location as an emergency, borne out by the fact that drivers are allowed to use flashing lights. This is inappropriate and confusing. If the vehicle is driven in a non-emergency manner during a transfer or relief operation, then why the need for lights? If, during the transfer, the driver is called to an actual emergency requiring a quicker response, then the lights and sirens should be activated to warn motorists that the unit needs to move more quickly.

Overuse of lights might be dangerous.

We all applaud the emergency services and the work they do, but if we can limit the confusion between emergency and non-emergency situations, then response times to incidents might be improved during actual emergencies. Car drivers would easily know the difference.


Sai Kung