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Speech by S for S at the Opening Ceremony of "Fire Asia 2006"

    Following is the speech of Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, at the Opening Ceremony of "Fire Asia 2006" today (February 15):

Good Morning. Ladies and Gentlemen,

     First of all, I would like to join Director Kwok in welcoming all our guests, distinguished speakers and participants to the "Fire Asia 2006" conference.  It is indeed my pleasure to be here today officiating at the opening ceremony of this meaningful event, specially organised for practitioners in the field of fire-fighting, ambulance and engineering services.

     The theme of this event is "Best Practices in Life Safety".  It may bring back to many of us unhappy memories brought by natural disasters and man-made calamities over the years.  We have heard about places being shattered by fires and earthquakes, ruined by serious floodings, devastated by tsunamis or attacked by terrorists.  These unthinkable damages have reminded us of the vulnerability of man notwithstanding economic growth and technological advancement.

     The existence of risks in our everyday life underlines the importance for any places in the world to establish their own emergency management systems, to get their people prepared in the event of disasters and other safety hazards, and to adopt the best practices in life safety at all times.  It is against this background that you will gather in Hong Kong in the next few days to exchange views and share experience on such important issues like emergency management, public health emergency planning and fire safety management.

     Given Hong Kong's geographical and other advantages, we have traditionally been a safe area with low risk of natural and man-made disasters.  But we cannot be complacent.  Our Government remains highly vigilant and well prepared for any emergency, no matter big or small.  We have, over the years, developed a comprehensive Emergency Response System.  Under this general framework we have also established contingency plans for various specific emergency situations which may happen in and around Hong Kong.

     In a densely populated city like Hong Kong, prompt and efficient response to emergencies is especially important.  But we equally believe that "prevention is better than cure". To this end, our Fire Services Department has spared no efforts in enhancing the safety of our people and environment, through a comprehensive legislative regime on fire safety, vigorous inspection actions, as well as sustained public education activities.  

     In recent years, the fire engineering profession in Hong Kong is  facing a new challenge brought about by the increasing number of mega-construction projects. The unconventional designs of these new projects, many of them with exceptionally large spatial volume and great height in their atriums and assembly halls, make the continued adoption of traditional fire safety measures impracticable.  In order not to compromise these innovative architectural designs, our fire engineering profession, like their overseas counterparts, has started to adopt a performance-based approach to tackle the fire safety issues. This important development in the field of fire engineering is one of the foci of this conference. In the next few days, the conference will provide a useful platform for exchange of ideas and expertise on the subject matters.

     I understand that alongside the conference, the Organising Committee has also arranged an exhibition where a wide array of the latest fire fighting and rescue equipment, protective gear, fire safety engineering products and related computer software will be on display. I am sure you will all find this conference a fruitful and rewarding experience. And to those participants visiting us from different parts of the world, I would like to wish you an enjoyable stay in Hong Kong.

     Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Issued at HKT 11:44