MALE dominance of fire fighting remains unchallenged, disappointed recruiters admitted yesterday, after the first call open to women failed to find one who made the grade. A three-week recruitment campaign, which officially closed on Monday but spilled over to yesterday morning, drew a record number of applications, including seven from women. Previously, Fire Services Department rules excluded women from fighting fires, although they could fill the more senior rank of station officer. Two women - the only ones in the department - were accepted as station officers last year. But the seven women who applied for general fire-fighting duties were not so lucky - five were too short and two failed eye tests. ''It is a real disappointment but we are not really surprised,'' senior divisional officer in charge of recruitment, training and examination, Lee Chee-chung, said. ''It is a male-dominated field and it will be hard to change that. But while we were hoping to see more women apply we are overwhelmed with the number of men this time.'' He said 1,106 men had applied. Of those, the 540 who met the requirements would be interviewed over coming weeks to cut the number further. About 140 vacancies need to be filled. Successful applicants must be between 168 and 191 centimetres tall and have perfect eyesight. Women must weigh between 50 and 83 kilograms, and men between 55 and 86.75 kg. Mr Lee said while he was disappointed that no women made it, the requirements would not be changed. ''If we were to change the physical requirements it would be a form of discrimination,'' he said. ''What we are saying by allowing women to become firefighters is that they are equal, and if we were to change the requirements it would be a double standard. ''But we also can't change things because of the practical considerations. It is a tough job and they have to be able to reach things like ladders on the fire engines and carry heavy weights. Hopefully, though, some will pass next time.'' The next recruitment campaign will be held in about six months.