For discussion FCR(95-96)74
on 17 November 1995


Subhead 603 Plant, vehicles and equipment

Members are invited to approve a commitment of $27 million for the acquisition of a replacement fireboat.


Fireboat No. 3 is reaching the end of its economic serviceable life and its facilities are inadequate to meet current operational requirements.


2. The Director of Fire Services proposes to replace Fireboat No. 3 by a medium fireboat with upgraded features to meet the operational needs of the department.


3. Fireboat No. 3 is a purpose-built, steel-hulled, medium size fire-fighting vessel. It is equipped with fire pumps, deck monitors, foam making equipment, salvage suction equipment and a dinghy for use as a work boat in shallow waters. It is used as a relief vessel for all the other functional fireboats.

4. Fireboat No. 3 was commissioned in 1977. The vessel is now approaching the end of its economic serviceable life. The Director of Marine has inspected Fireboat No. 3 and recommended its replacement as it would become uneconomical to keep it seaworthy.

5. During the past three years, apart from a downtime of 173 days for regular maintenance and repair, Fireboat No 3 has been deployed to relieve other fireboats for 870 days. We have strategically deployed the other fireboats to cover high risk areas. Their capability is fully utilised and there is no scope to redeploy them to serve as a replacement for Fireboat No. 3. The need to replace Fireboat No. 3 is therefore imminent.

6. The design of Fireboat No. 3 is outdated; it cannot meet current operational requirements due to its intrinsic limitation of low speed, inadequate working and accommodation area, poor sea keeping performance and restricted fire fighting capacity. The Director of Marine advises that, to meet current requirements, we should acquire a 27-metre aluminium-hulled boat, with a speed of 20 knots, a bow thruster for maintaining the vessel in position in rough sea conditions and an additional independent fire pump with foam output capacity twice as large as the existing one. With these upgraded features, the replacement fireboat will be able to accommodate a maximum of 55 firemen instead of 25 as in the case of the existing Fireboat No. 3. The provision of larger fuel and oil tanks would enable the vessel, with all fire fighting equipment in operation at maximum capacity, to last for not less than 96 hours. By contrast, the existing Fireboat No. 3 can only operate for 24 hours when all its fire fighting equipment is in operation. The foam tank installed in the proposed replacement fireboat will also have a larger capacity for storage of foam concentrate which is essential for fighting fire involving flammable liquid. With such facilities, the replacement fireboat will be able to provide adequate relief for all functional fireboats in Hong Kong Waters ranging from major fireboats to personnel carriers. The existing Fireboat No. 3, due to its limitations, cannot adequately replace the major fireboats and hence constrains the deployment flexibility and efficiency of the Fire Services Department.

7. The proposed timetable for the procurement of the replacement fireboat is as follows -

(a) Design and specification preparation and tender processing

March 1996 to February 1997

(b)Award of contract

February 1997

(c)Construction, main deck finishing and installation of main engine

March 1997 to March 1998

(d) Acceptance test

April 1998

(e) Delivery of fireboat/final acceptance

May 1998


8. The Director of Fire Services estimates that the non-recurrent cost of procuring a medium fireboat, including fire fighting and communication equipment, is $27 million.

9. The estimated cashflow is as follows -


$ million









10. The Director of Fire Services estimates that the annual recurrent expenditure will be $1,680,000, made up as follows -

$ million

(a) Repairs and maintenance


(b) Other recurrent costs




11. As regards paragraph 10(a), the estimate of $1,510,000 is to cover the annual maintenance costs including procurement of spare parts.

12. As regards paragraph 10(b), the estimate of $170,000 is to cover operational expenses such as fuel and oil consumption.

13. The recurrent expenditure would be partly offset by the recurrent expenditure of the existing Fireboat No. 3 which is $1,030,000. The net additional recurrent expenditure required is therefore $650,000. There are no additional staff requirements.

14. If Members approve the proposal, we will include sufficient provision in the 1996-97 draft Estimates and future estimates for the purpose.


15. The existing fireboat fleet comprises two major fireboats, three medium fireboats and one personnel carrier. There is an additional fireboat under construction and is expected to come into service when the River Trade Terminal in Tuen Mun is commissioned in 1998. Each fireboat carries out a specific role to provide water-based protection to Hong Kong waters. Any depletion in this protective network of fire coverage would have serious consequences for life and property.

16. We currently deploy four fireboats to provide fire cover at high and specific risk areas. Details of this coverage are at the Enclosure. Of the remaining two fireboats, one is a personnel carrier and the other is the relief vessel, Fireboat No. 3, for which we are now seeking funding approval to provide a replacement.

Security Branch
November 1995

Enclosure to FCR(95-96)74

Deployment of existing fireboats in Hong Kong Waters

Deployment of fireboat at


Central Harbour

Providing fire cover to vessels berthed or anchored in the harbour and rendering assistance to on-shore installations in close proximity to the harbour.

Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter

Providing protection to Aberdeen harbour and typhoon shelter, East Lamma Channel, Tai Tam Bay, Lamma Island and its Power Station.

East side of Tsing Yi Island

Providing protection to oil tankers and container ships berthed at the nearby oil terminals, potentially hazardous installations and floating docks/shipyards.

North Point Fire Services Pier

Providing protection to Hong Kong Waters east of Central Harbour/support for airport incidents.

Note : An additional fireboat for providing protection to the development of the River Trade Terminal (RTT) and the related maritime activities in the Special Industrial Area (SIA) in Tuen Mun is now at the design stage and will commence service in 1998.

Last Updated on 2 December 1998