Government commits to enhancing fire safety in Hong Kong’s old buildings


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Urgent need for enhanced fire safety in Hong Kong’s older structures

In response to concerns raised in the Legislative Council on April 24, 2024, regarding fire safety in Hong Kong’s ageing urban buildings, the Government has detailed its ongoing and future measures to improve safety standards.

The query, posed by the Hon Lee Chun-keung, highlighted the recent No. 3 alarm fire in Yau Ma Tei which resulted in multiple casualties.

This incident has intensified scrutiny on the so-called “three-nil buildings” which lack owner corporations, resident organisations, and property management, raising questions about their fire safety management.

Comprehensive inspections and enforcement actions

In the past five years, the Fire Services Department (FSD) and the Buildings Department (BD) have conducted extensive inspections across various districts.

Since the enactment of the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance (Cap.

572), the departments have issued numerous Fire Safety Directions to enforce compliance with modern fire safety standards in buildings constructed before March 1987.

By the end of February 2024, approximately 10,920 buildings had been inspected, with over 360,000 directives issued, of which around 40% have been fully complied with.

Strategic amendments and technological advancements

The government is accelerating efforts to amend the ordinance to empower the FSD and BD to undertake fire safety improvements unilaterally for non-compliant buildings and to recover costs post-completion.

This proactive approach aims to enhance compliance and safety standards without compromising the integrity of private property maintenance.

Additionally, technology plays a crucial role in this strategy, with new systems being introduced to facilitate compliance, especially in buildings facing structural challenges.

IFSJ Comment

The Hong Kong Government’s multifaceted strategy to enhance fire safety in older buildings is a testament to its commitment to public safety.

By integrating legislative amendments, stringent enforcement, and technological aid, the authorities aim to mitigate fire risks effectively.

This comprehensive approach is crucial for improving the living conditions of residents and ensuring the structural integrity of Hong Kong’s older buildings.

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