A NEW female recruitment drive by the Fire Services Department has fallen short of expectations - with almost all the applicants failing to measure up to the height requirements. The first woman applicant to meet the tall order of 168 centimetres, the same height limit set for men, passed the test on Wednesday. So far 14 women have been turned away since the recruitment campaign began nine days ago. Prospective female station officers must also have perfect eyesight, weigh a minimum of 50 kilograms and have a Form Five education. In its efforts to reverse the present recruitment drought, the department has been advertising for women to fight fires alongside men in newspapers and sent recruitment letters to students with Form Five standard through the Hongkong Examination Authority. The department plans to recruit 69 station officers this year to fill the existing and expected vacancies resulting from retirement and resignation. One failed applicant, Miss Mandy Chan - 24 and 164 centimetres tall, said: ''I think the requirement on height is a bit tough for oriental women.'' Although department spokesman Mr Hanny Lee Kin-pui agreed with Miss Chan, he said they would not relax the criteria. ''The job of a station officer is to rescue lives, thus it is important to have good physique,'' Mr Lee said. The only successful applicant so far, Miss Ivy Chan - 23, 174 centimetres tall and weighing 62 kilograms - said: ''I decided I wanted to become a firefighter when I was small.'' Now a clerical civil servant, Miss Chan said she was attracted to the new opportunity because she would like to try something more challenging. She added that the monthly $15,100 salary was also a draw. Although more than 50 women have called the Fire Services department every day about the fire officer's post, the department has only received 15 applications including yesterday's batch. Mr Lee said the department was not discouraged by the response because the scheme had only started on March 23. Some women have also failed to make the grade because they wear glasses - eyesight problems have also thwarted 95 per cent of male applicants.