Childhood dreams can be realised

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 June, 2010, 12:00am

Becoming a fireman may be the stuff of childhood dreams and - with the Fire Services Department's recruitment exercise - for some, it could soon become a reality.

The department is recruiting station and ambulance officers, with plans to begin hiring firemen next month and in August. It recently hired ambulancemen.

'We conduct our recruitment drive based on the needs of our workforce,' says Liu Cheuk-fan, senior divisional officer (recruitment training and examination) at the Fire Services Department.

'Gaps in the force that need to be filled are due to retirement and natural wastage.'

There are about 90 vacancies for firemen and about 48 positions for station officers, while there are more than 100 slots for ambulance services personnel this year.

Applicants interested in becoming a fireman or ambulanceman must at least have attained a pass in Chinese Language and English Language, in addition to achieving a Grade E or above in three other subjects in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, or its equivalent, and be fluent Cantonese speakers.

The interview process for both roles is similar; with the exception that firemen must have good vision, without needing to wear spectacles.

They will be asked to first pass an eyesight test before moving on to a physical fitness test, which examines their strength and endurance levels, and a practical, job-related performance test, assessing the individual's performance on the job.

They are asked, for example, to climb up ladders, crawl through tunnels and retrieve objects from heights.

The educational requirement for station officers and ambulance officers is higher as they need to take on a more supervisory and directional role. They are also expected to also be conversant in English and Cantonese.

Fire station officers will be required to pass similar eyesight, physical fitness and job-related performance tests to those of firemen, though station officers and ambulance officers will go through interviews that assess their leadership potential through group discussions, impromptu talks, and practical and leadership exercises.

'We want to see the candidates in action, and see how they might express their views and defend their teams,' Liu says.

Two rounds of interviews for both roles will assess whether individuals have a sense of discipline and common sense. About half the applicants for the role of fire station officers must be university graduates, with the remainder having managerial job experience, Liu says.

All candidates will be required to take a multiple-choice aptitude test, covering areas including numerical, verbal, visual, spatial and mechanical. Final decisions are made following integrity checks and medical assessments.

Those joining the Fire Services Department will undergo a probationary period of three years before officially becoming civil servants, Liu says.