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LCQ20: New Ambulances

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Ip Wai-ming in the Legislative Council today (February 16):


     It has been reported that the Fire Services Department (FSD) procured over 200 ambulances of new models in 2009; however, due to problems in FSD's procurement process, the first batch of approximately 70 new ambulances delivered to Hong Kong are 30 centimetres taller and 10 centimetres wider than the old ones, making it impossible for the new ambulances to enter or leave the ambulance depots. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) among the ambulance depots in Hong Kong at present, of the number of those which the new ambulances, due to their excessive sizes, are unable to enter; whether FSD will carry out conversion works at such ambulance depots so that the new ambulances will be able to enter or leave all ambulance depots in Hong Kong; if FSD will do so, of the expenditure involved;

(b) what measures FSD has to avoid the situation of the aforesaid batch of new ambulances being unable to arrive in time at places in need of emergency rescue services because of their sizes;

(c) of FSD's procurement procedures for the aforesaid batch of new ambulances; the number of staff members responsible for procedures such as putting forth the procurement proposal, making procurement, supervising the procurement procedures, as well as inspecting and accepting the new ambulances; why the staff concerned have all along failed to notice the implications of and problems arising from the enlarged size of the new ambulances;

(d) whether the authorities will conduct a review of FSD's overall existing procedures for ambulance procurement and penalise staff who were derelict in their duties; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(e) whether FSD will consider returning such ambulances to the supplier, or recovering the costs of carrying out conversion works at ambulance depots and lodging claims for compensation from the supplier; if FSD will do so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a) The Fire Services Department (FSD) has replaced 196 ambulances and acquired 21 additional ambulances in batches between early 2009 and January this year. To improve operational efficiency, and having taken into account views of the staff side and occupational safety and health of frontline staff, FSD has slightly increased the width and height of the new ambulance model. These new ambulances are more spacious and provide more storage room for new ambulance items and equipments acquired in recent years, such as a dedicated cabinet for drugs, vacuum splint, light breaking-in equipment, additional spinal boards and oxygen cylinders etc.

     These new ambulances can enter and exit all ambulance depots in Hong Kong. However, the Sha Tin Ambulance Depot is of an old design and its electrical folding gate is narrower than those of other ambulance depots. Hence new ambulances are currently using the side entrance of that depot. FSD is already undertaking improvement works to widen the electrical folding gate. The works will be completed by the end of June this year and cost about HK$1.34 million.

(b) The new ambulances do not encounter particular difficulties during rescue operations or accessing scene of incidents. Among the 217 new ambulances mentioned above, only the first two batches consisting of 70 new ambulances are slightly taller than the old ones. FSD has already replaced the communication antenna of those ambulances with softer and highly bendable ones to facilitate their passage of covered passages with lower ceilings. The remaining 147 new ambulances do not have this problem.

(c) & (d) The procurement exercise of ambulances is conducted by the Ambulance Command of the FSD, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and Government Logistics Department collaboratively. Replacement of ambulances involves some general procedures such as drafting of specifications, tendering, manufacturing, installation, testing and pre-training. A number of factors, such as efficiency of rescue operations, occupational safety and health of frontline staff, views of the staff side and market supply, will also be taken into account in the procurement process.

     When drawing up the specifications for the new ambulances, the FSD has increased the capacity of the patient compartment in the light of comments of frontline staff. Except for issues mentioned in (a) and (b) above, the new ambulances do not encounter any particular difficulties during rescue operations, including the access to ambulance depots and places for emergency rescue.

(e) The specifications of the new ambulances tally with the requirements stated in the procurement contract. No breach of procurement contract is found.

Ends/Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:57


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