Warning on fire safety issued

May 21, 2024

The Government said today it will instigate prosecution proceedings against building owners who ignore the Fire Safety Directions or make poor progress without reasonable excuse starting from this quarter.


The Government continues to follow up on the fire incident at New Lucky House and the non-compliance issues with the Fire Safety Directions revealed therein.


At present, there are about 9,000 buildings with expired directions and which have not yet complied with the directions.


Excluding some thousands of buildings which have applied for government subsidies, the Government will prioritise handling of over 2,000 buildings without active progress from the remaining buildings that have not yet complied with the directions.


The Buildings Department (BD) will focus on handling buildings aged 50 years or above. Other prioritisation factors include those without fire service installations and equipment, buildings with a single-staircase design, buildings with more guest houses or unauthorised subdivided flats, or with large scale illegal structures.


For these 2,000-plus buildings, the BD and the Fire Services Department (FSD), upon the issuance of warning letters or the expiry of the directions respectively, will instigate prosecutions against owners of buildings lacking progress without reasonable excuse starting from the second quarter.


The Government will provide active support for building owners who are willing to comply with the directions.


The two departments, together with the Home Affairs Department, will deploy staff to attend meetings of owners' corporations and explain the requirements of the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance, as well as proactively liaise with the project consultants or registered fire service installation contractors engaged by the owners to offer appropriate assistance and advice.


The Government will also strengthen support for subsidised buildings.


Under the $5.5 billion Fire Safety Improvement Works Subsidy Scheme funded by the Government and implemented by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), a total of about 3,000 applications have been issued with Approval-in-Principle Letters in the first two rounds.


The URA is processing around 1,300 applications received in the third round that meet the basic requirements, and will start issuing Approval-in-Principle Letters to applicants starting from the end of this month.


As for the subsidised buildings, the URA will strengthen monitoring of their fire safety improvement works progress by urging building owners who have not yet appointed consultants to expedite the course of actions and tightening the applications for deadline extensions for those lacking progress without a reasonable excuse.


The URA will revoke the approval of subsidies for cases that fail to meet the progress requirements despite reminders.


The FSD and the BD will hold district briefings regularly to explain the details of compliance with the directions, with the most recent one in Tsuen Wan to be held on May 23.


Meanwhile, the Government is expediting the relevant work on amending the ordinance to empower the FSD and the BD to carry out fire safety improvement works for owners who have failed to comply with the requirements of the ordinance, and to recover the relevant fees from them upon completion of the defaulted works.


It will strive to submit the proposed amendment bill to the Legislative Council for scrutiny in July.

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