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Hong Kong government intensifies efforts to enforce fire safety regulations

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Government action on fire safety non-compliance

The Government of the Hong Kong is actively addressing fire safety non-compliance issues at New Lucky House, as reported by the Government spokesman on May 21.

The Government said it is committed to supporting building owners who comply with Fire Safety Directions and assisting them in completing necessary improvements promptly.

The Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance mandates that buildings constructed on or before March 1, 1987, must be upgraded to meet modern fire safety standards.

The Fire Services Department (FSD) and the Buildings Department (BD) are responsible for enforcing this ordinance.

Directions from the FSD focus on fire service installations, while the BD addresses building construction requirements.

Prosecution for non-compliance

Currently, around 9,000 buildings have expired Directions and have not complied.

The FSD and BD will prioritise over 2,000 buildings lacking progress without reasonable excuse for prosecution.

This prioritisation considers factors such as building age, absence of fire service installations, and the presence of unauthorised structures.

Starting from the second quarter of this year, the FSD and BD will initiate prosecutions against non-compliant owners.

Assistance will be provided to owners, including attending meetings of owners’ corporations and liaising with project consultants or registered fire service installation contractors.

Support for subsidised buildings

The Government’s $5.5 billion Fire Safety Improvement Works Subsidy Scheme has issued Approval-in-Principle Letters to about 3,000 applications in its first two rounds.

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is processing 1,300 applications from the third round and will begin issuing Approval-in-Principle Letters by the end of this month.

The URA will continue to monitor the progress of subsidised buildings, urging owners to expedite actions and tightening applications for deadline extensions.

Subsidies may be revoked for cases that fail to meet progress requirements despite reminders.

Enhancing public education and support

The FSD and BD will conduct regular district briefings through the Central Platform on Building Management to explain compliance details.

The Home Affairs Department (HAD) will invite non-compliant owners to attend these briefings.

The first briefing will be held in Tsuen Wan District on May 23, with future briefings listed on the HAD’s website.

The Government will also monitor the effectiveness of these actions and review follow-up strategies.

The FSD Building Improvement Support Centre will provide one-stop support services to owners and occupiers of old buildings, from receiving Directions to completing necessary works.

Expediting amendments to the Ordinance

The Security Bureau (SB) is expediting the amendment of the Ordinance to empower the FSD and BD to carry out fire safety improvement works for non-compliant owners and recover relevant fees.

The Government said aims to submit the proposed amendment bill to the Legislative Council for scrutiny in July.

The Government issued a reminder to private building owners to make timely repairs and maintain their buildings properly, noting that it is the owner’s responsibility to carry out necessary fire safety improvement works in accordance with the Ordinance.

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