New digital radios won't jam - but firefighters will have to wait months to get them

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 November, 2010, 12:00am

Firefighters will have to wait until July for a new digital radio communication system. Until then they are stuck with their old equipment.

Fire Services Department director Gregory Lo Chun-hung said the department was making progress on having the system by next summer.

'The new digital system will be equipped with portable repeaters, some of which can be placed in fire vehicles and buildings at fire scenes, so radio communication coverage can be enhanced,' Lo said at yesterday's Tai Po District Council meeting, before the inquest ruling.

'There will be no more radio jamming as the new system only allows one-to-one conversation on each channel,' Lo said. The new transceivers also had an emergency button so a firefighter could call for help if needed.

According to a Security Bureau paper submitted to the Legislative Council Finance Committee in 2009, it will cost HK$178 million for the new system.

The analogue system had limited capacity and the 'voice channels were susceptible to congestion at the scene of incident,' the paper said.

Fire Services Department Staff General Association chairman Chiu Sin-chung said firefighters hoped the department could introduce some other measures during the transition period, such as providing every firefighter with a transceiver instead of only the senior firefighters.

A Security Bureau and Fire Services Department spokeswoman said the Efficiency Unit's study co-commissioned by the Security Bureau and Fire Services Department on the procurement of fire services equipment and apparatus was expected to be completed by year end.