New crack rescue team hitting the heights of HK

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 August, 2011, 12:00am


A new elite rescue team is scaling the heights of Hong Kong and saving lives in places others firefighters simply cannot reach.

The members of the Fire Services Department's high-angle rescue team specialise in saving people who are trapped among the heights of the city's skyscrapers on scaffolding, work gondolas or in other perilous high-rise situations.

The 42-member team, composed of firefighters at Pok Fu Lam fire station on Hong Kong Island and Tin Sum station in the New Territories, was established in early August.

'Our city is full of skyscrapers, and some are several hundred metres high,' divisional officer Li Chun-kit said.

'Last year, the Fire Services Department started to prepare for the establishment of a high-angle rescue team that could handle complicated rescue situations that involve high-rises.'

Response to the team's recruitment was strong, with about 400 applicants from within the department.

Candidates had to pass an aptitude test and then attend a five-week course that trained them in the skills for working at heights, as well as on-site rescue practice.

Five power ascenders - able to carry a 200kg load and move at 22 metres per minute - were acquired to assist the team in carrying out the rescue work.

In a demonstration yesterday, a firefighter took about 40 seconds to ascend a 15-metre-tall building with a 'rescued' person.

Without the specialist equipment the rescue would have taken about 15 minutes, acting divisional officer Choi Kwok-chung said.

The Fire Services Department spent HK$3.8 million on equipment, including the power ascenders, and HK$1.4 million on the training courses for the new squad.