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Hong Kong rescue services

Fallen fire heroes honoured in Hong Kong’s first remembrance ceremony

Director of Fire Services Daryl Li leads a minute’s silence in memory

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 7:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 October, 2017, 8:35pm

Hong Kong’s fire services authority on Thursday held its first remembrance ceremony in 149 years to honour the bravery and sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Since records began in the 1950s, more than 30 fire services and ambulance personnel, most of them firefighters, have died on the job.

The ceremony was held at the Fire and Ambulance Services Academy in Tseung Kwan O, and authorities plan to make it an annual event.

Director of Fire Services Daryl Li Kin-yat led representatives of the Fire Services Department, work unions, civilian staff and retirees in paying tribute.

“With this solemn ceremony today we pay our highest respects to the fallen fire services personnel,” Li said in a speech.

“From generation to generation, our fire services personnel are dedicated to their duties and demonstrate exceptional bravery. Together we shoulder the responsibility to save those in distress and protect our communities regardless of danger or difficulty.

“Our strong spirit remains unwavering despite our arduous duties and the changing environment.”

Li then led attendees in observing a minute’s silence, and laid a wreath on behalf of the department.

The police bugle sounded the Last Post and Reveille during the 30-minute ceremony.

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In March, principal fireman Yau Siu-ming sacrificed his life during a cliff-side rescue of an off-duty policeman and his girlfriend who were trapped in a treacherous part of Ma On Shan Country Park in poor weather.

A 108-hour inferno that swept through an industrial building in Ngau Tau Kok in June last year claimed the lives of senior station officer Thomas Cheung Yiu-sing and senior fireman Samuel Hui Chi-kit.

Jerry Nip Yuen-fung, chairman of the Fire Services Department Staffs General Association, said the union had called for an annual remembrance day after principal fireman Leung Kwok-kei died of injuries sustained in a Shek Kip Mei gas explosion in December 2014.

Nip said he was glad to see the authority had finally adopted the idea and recognised the efforts of fire services personnel.

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He urged the government to conduct a comprehensive review of the department’s grade structure and pay scales, as well as beef up equipment.

“We have suggested to the government a series of enhancement measures … The Office of the Chief Executive told us it had asked the concerned bureau to review the matter as soon as possible ... We believe it won’t take a lot of time to handle our concerns,” Nip said after the ceremony.

He added that he hoped authorities would meet unions and the department early next year to discuss details.