on 31 July 1998
ITEM FOR FINANCE COMMITTEE
HEAD 45 - FIRE SERVICES DEPARTMENT
Subhead 003 Recoverable salaries and allowances (Airport Authority)
- approve the payment, with retrospective effect from 6 July 1998, of a new Extra Duties Allowance for Disciplined Services (Marine) at a rate of 5% of Point 1 of the General Disciplined Services (Rank and File) Pay Scale, to be called Pleasure Vessel Master and Engineer (Grade II) Allowance, to members of the Fireman grade required to operate speed boats at the new airport at Chek Lap Kok; and
- delegate to the Secretary for the Civil Service the authority to extend the payment of the allowance to other members of the disciplined services who are required to operate vessels with similar skills.
We need to provide an allowance for the Principal Firemen (PFn)/ Senior Firemen (SFn)/Firemen (Fn) of the Fire Services Department (FSD) in recognition of the extra qualifications they have to acquire and the extra skills they have to exercise in operating speed boats during their normal fire-fighting and rescue duties at the new Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) at Chek Lap Kok (CLK).
2. We propose to pay a new Extra Duties Allowance for Disciplined Services (Marine) (EDADS(Marine)), to be called Pleasure Vessel Master and Engineer (Grade II) Allowance, at a rate of 5% of Point 1 of General Disciplined Services (Rank and File) Pay Scale (GDS(R)1), to PFn/SFn/Fn of FSD who hold both Pleasure Vessel Grade II Master and Engineer Certificates and are required to operate speed boats in addition to their normal fire-fighting and rescue duties at the new HKIA at CLK. We also propose that Members delegate to the Secretary for the Civil Service (SCS) the authority to extend the payment of the allowance to other members of the disciplined services who possess the aforesaid certificates, or other marine certificate(s) considered as equivalent or comparable by the Director of Marine (D of M), and are required to exercise such extra skills regularly in performing their normal duties.
3. Previously, we had provided three inflatable rescue boats and two rescue launches at the fire station of the Hong Kong International Airport at Kai Tak. Each inflatable rescue boat was only five metres in length and two metres in width and was driven by a single 40-horse power outboard engine. Given the relatively calm and sheltered harbour water around the airport, the firemen operating those small rescue boats were exempted by D of M from obtaining any certificates of competency and hence no EDADS(Marine) had been granted to them. Regarding the two rescue launches, the fireman crews working on board received EDADS(Marine) in recognition of their skills in navigation and engineering and the rates of allowance depended on the marine qualifications required.
4. In providing fire-fighting and rescue services for the new HKIA at CLK, the Director of Fire Services (D of FS) has to ensure an immediate response to any aircraft ditching incident within five kilometres of the airport. In addition to two new rescue launches 1 , D of FS has deployed eight new high speed rescue boats with rigid hulls, each measuring 8.8 metres in length and 3.3 metres in width and propelled by two 225-horse power outboard engines, at the four fire and sea rescue stations at the airport. These purpose-built speed boats can facilitate the fireman crew to carry out rapid rescue of survivors under the rough sea conditions in CLK area and to serve as the quickest means to transfer those seriously injured to the nearest pick-up points for conveyance to hospitals. Each speed boat is staffed by three PFn/SFn/Fn, with one being responsible for operating the boat and the others for fire-fighting and rescue duties. To provide adequate cover round the clock, a total of 36 PFn/SFn/Fn are required to work in shifts as operators of the eight speed boats.
5. To be qualified as a speed boat operator, a PFn/SFn/Fn has to undergo a six-week intensive training course organised by the Marine Department and pass two examinations to obtain the Pleasure Vessel Grade II Master and Engineer Certificates. To ensure that the speed boat crews are always on the alert, fully familiar with the operating technique and able to manoeuvre the craft under the rough sea conditions prevailing at CLK area, they have to practise the skills frequently during the routine training sessions and exercises. In recognition of the skills for operating the speed boats and the special qualification required, which are additional requirements exceeding the normal duties and responsibilities of members of the Fireman grade, we consider that the 36 PFn/SFn/Fn holding the Pleasure Vessel Grade II Master and Engineer Certificates and operating speed boats on a regular basis at the new HKIA should receive an EDADS(Marine).
6. We have consulted D of M on the level of skills and equivalent qualifications to be acquired by the FSD speed boat operators and how they could fit into the existing categories of EDADS(Marine). (A breakdown of existing categories of EDADS(Marine) is in paragraph 12.) The D of M advised that as the technical and navigational skills and qualifications for operating new FSD speed boats are different from other government launches and vessels, the existing categories of EDADS(Marine) are not applicable to the work situation of these new speed boats.
7. Having regard to D of M's comments and the fact that the speed boat operators have to acquire both Pleasure Vessel Grade II Master Certificate and Pleasure Vessel Grade II Engineer Certificate, we propose to pay them a new EDADS(Marine) at 5% of GDS(R)1. As we have already started to man the speed boats since the opening of the HKIA at CLK on 6 July 1998, we propose that payment of the new allowance should take effect from that date.
8. Currently, only 36 PFn/SFn/Fn are eligible for the proposed allowance. In future, needs may arise for more members of FSD or members of other disciplined services to acquire both the Pleasure Vessel Grade II Master and Engineer Certificates, or other marine certificate(s) considered as equivalent or comparable by the D of M, and to exercise such skills to operate vessels regularly in performing their normal duties. In line with the existing arrangement for approving payment of EDADS(Marine), we further propose that Members delegate to SCS the authority to extend the payment of the Pleasure Vessel Master and Engineer (Grade II) Allowance to these officers as appropriate.
9. The estimated annual expenditure of the proposal is about $280,000. We have included sufficient provision in the 1998-99 Estimates to meet the cost of the proposal. We will recover the cost of the proposal from the Airport Authority.
Advice of the Standing Committee on Disciplined Services Salaries and Conditions of Service
10. The Standing Committee on Disciplined Services Salaries and Conditions of Service (Standing Committee) has considered the proposal and supported it.
11. Job-related allowances are payable to eligible officers in recognition of the performance of extra work in addition to the normal duties of their rank and not reflected in the pay. The general principles endorsed by the Standing Committee for paying an allowance to disciplined staff for extra duties follow the same civil sevice guidelines i.e. the duties performed by the officers should be in addition to their normal responsibilities or require additional skills and the duties account for a substantial part of their work. Members noted the general principles when approving payment of EDADS vide item FCR(89-90)99 on 8 December 1989.
12. EDADS(Marine) is a job-related allowance payable to disciplined officers who are required to perform navigational or engineering duties on board in addition to their normal responsibilities. The rate of allowance takes account of the level of maritime qualifications required to enable the officers to discharge the duties on board. The existing categories of EDADS(Marine), approved by Members on 12 July 1991, are as follows -
|Category of EDADS(Marine)
(% of GDS(R)1*)
|Navigation or Engineering (1st Class)
Navigation or Engineering (2nd Class)
|Navigation or Engineering (3rd Class)
Marine Police Efficiency Certificate
* The salary value of GDS(R)1 as at 1 April 1998 approved by Members on 17 July 1998 is $12,940.
1. The two new rescue launches at the new HKIA at CLK are larger in size than the old ones used at Kai Tak. A larger fireman crew is needed to man these vessels but the qualifications and skills required are already covered by the existing categories of EDADS(Marine).