Hong Kong should establish a Firefighters’ Day in salute

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2016, 5:17pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2016, 5:17pm

The fire at Amoycan Industrial Centre in Ngau Tau Kok was finally put out after 108 hours of utmost effort by our brave and devoted firefighters. It is so sad to learn that two of them were killed and over 10 others were injured.

I strongly believe the main consideration when fighting fires is protecting human lives. In this respect, saving the lives of victims who are trapped in a building on fire, and those of the firefighters who are executing their duty to save lives, carry equivalent weight.

In such risky work, a sound strategy can minimise danger and maximise impact. Taking into consideration the circumstances and conditions on the ground in the Ngau Tau Kok case, it would have been more appropriate to focus on the work of lowering the temperature of the building rather than breaking doors open to put out flames inside the cubicles. I completely agree that it is the mission of firefighters to put out a fire, regardless of whether or not there are any persons trapped at the scene. However, I reckon that old buildings can never be comparable to the value of human life. Thus, in this case, could active action to put out the fire have been delayed?

That Hong Kong can remain one of the safest cities in the world is in part attributed to the effort and contribution of the Fire Services Department. This fact is brought home in the Ngau Tau Kok fire last week.

Firefighting is dangerous work and occasionally may even cost lives. Hong Kong’s firefighters protect life and property, so citizens may enjoy their lives, tourists may enjoy their vacation and businessmen may conduct their business with confidence. Our firefighters’ gallantry, team spirit, devotion to duty and professionalism are highly creditable and recognised by members of the public.

We have a Teachers’ Day on September 10 and a Nurses’ Day on May 12 to recognise the important roles these professionals play. Why not a day for our firefighters? I suggest that the SAR government should also establish a Firefighters’ Day on June 21, the day the Ngau Tau Kok fire broke out, to pay tribute to our firefighters. It will certainly boost the morale of the officers.

I do hope that the full review and investigation into the fire, including into the two deaths and work procedures of the Fire Services Department, will enhance the quality of its work.

I would like to take this opportunity to praise the spirit of the two brave firefighters who died; their devotion to duty was exemplary. And I send my condolences to the families of the deceased.

The efforts of all those firefighters who participated in putting out the blaze are highly appreciated.

Barry Kwok, Wong Tai Sin