Fire safety penalty hike mooted

May 22, 2024

Acting Secretary for Security Michael Cheuk today said the Government is prepared to raise the penalties for non-compliance with the Directions and Fire Safety Compliance Orders for buildings as a deterrent effect.


Responding to questions from legislator Lo Wai-kwok in the Legislative Council, Mr Cheuk noted that the Government is expediting the work on amending the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance to empower the Fire Services Department and the Buildings Department to carry out fire safety improvement works for the buildings whose owners have failed to comply with the ordinance's requirements and to recover the relevant fees upon completion of the defaulted works.


He reiterated that timely and proper maintenance of private buildings is the responsibility of owners.


“We propose to amend the ordinance and to arrange for defaulted works because we understand that some owners are facing genuine difficulties, and that empowering the Government to carry out defaulted works by way of amending the ordinance can assist those owners with genuine difficulties in enhancing the fire safety standards of those relevant buildings, providing better protection to them.”


Acknowledging that there are views in the community that the deterrent effect of a penalty should keep up with the times, Mr Cheuk said with reference to penalties for offences of a similar nature or gravity, the Government is inclined to raise the penalties for non-compliance with the directions and compliance orders to a maximum of $100,000 and $200,000 respectively, as well as increase the corresponding daily fine.


The amendments to the ordinance also include other different elements, such as introducing provisions against uncooperative owners to prevent anyone from intentionally obstructing an owners' corporation in complying with the requirements of the ordinance, empowering the Government to register instructions of the ordinance issued against the involved buildings or their parts in the Land Registry.


The Government strives to submit the proposed amendment bill to LegCo for scrutiny in July.


Mr Cheuk also hopes the measures will effectively strengthen the deterrent effect and encourage owners to comply with the ordinance, with a view to enhancing the compliance rate.

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