Fire Services officials yesterday tried to defuse anger among ambulancemen who have threatened industrial action over recent changes to working guidelines. Chief Ambulance Officer Mak Kwai-pui met representatives of the Fire Services Department's Ambulancemen's Union last night to hear their grievances. On Tuesday, the ambulance union accused the department of placing extra pressure on members by imposing unreasonable target times for the provision of services. The ambulance service aims for a 12-minute response time. The vice-chairman of the 2,200-strong ambulance union, Wat Ki-on, said that the guidelines, which were issued three months ago, stipulated that ambulancemen could no longer cite distance as a reason for an ambulance not being able to travel five kilometres or more within 10 minutes. Mr Mak, who heads the ambulance command, said yesterday that the department recently issued a notice reminding ambulancemen not to linger too long at the scene of an emergency following a spate of complaints from the public. He said the department had no intention of putting pressure on frontline staff. 'In fact we are trying our best to see within our existing resources whether we can still get some efficiencies to enhance our service,' Mr Mak said. Regarding the 12-minute response time, Mr Mak said ambulancemen were asked to tick off one of five listed reasons on a standard form. Only if the reasons given appeared unsound were staff asked to explain why they could not meet the target time.