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Speech by S for S at Hong Kong Institution of Engineers Fire Division 3rd Annual Symposium 2011 (English only)

     Following is the opening speech by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, at Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) Fire Division 3rd Annual Symposium 2011 today (April 6)ĄG

Mr Cheung (Chairman of the Fire Division of HKIE), Mr Chan (Chairman of the Symposium Organisation Committee), distinguished guests and speakers, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. It is my great pleasure to join you at the opening of the third Annual Fire Symposium of the Fire Division of Hong Kong Institution of Engineers.

     A warm welcome to you all, and especially to our guests from overseas. I am delighted that so many distinguished overseas speakers are here this year. Your presence raises the profile of this event and your expertise will certainly help to promote understanding of the trends and opportunities for the fire engineering industry.

     This is the third annual symposium organised by the HKIE focusing on issues pertinent to fire safety and building standards. Under this year's theme "Global Emerging Trend in Fire Engineering Design", the symposium offers an interactive platform for the fire engineering community as well as government representatives to share their experience and insights on the latest development of the field.

     The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is committed to maintaining Hong Kong as a safe city. Providing swift and reliable emergency fire services is one of the keys to achieve this goal. Hong Kong has a well-trained and well-equipped fire services force which is dedicated to combating fire hazard and promoting fire safety and prevention. To meet the fast changing training needs and equip frontline staff with advanced fire fighting and rescue techniques, we plan to redevelop the Fire Services Training School. The new school, with an estimated project cost of $3.4 billion Hong Kong dollars, is expected to commence operation in late 2015 and will have specialised simulators providing training in more sophisticated and realistic settings, such as those of building collapse and highway fire.

     In terms of the number of fire, I am happy to say that we compare favourably with many metropolitans. The total number of real building fire calls in Hong Kong dropped by over 40% from some 4,100 cases in 1999 to some 2,300 cases in 2010. This speaks not only of the effectiveness of our enforcement and public education, strengthened vigilance of the community, but also the much-appreciated dedication and professionalism of the fire engineering personnel in drawing up building design that helps prevent fire.

     Fire engineering is an essential process to ensure fire safety in buildings or structures through the design of fire safety system and the evaluation of various design options. A structure or facility with a well-thought through fire engineering design will reduce the risk of fire hazard. The proliferation of high-rise buildings, large scale infrastructures such as tunnels and bridges have presented new and significant challenges for fire engineering design.

     One of the notable trends in fire engineering design is the switch from the conventional prescriptive approach to the performance-based approach. While the prescriptive approach solely takes into account the nature of buildings, the performance-based approach, which is more effective in addressing the potential fire risks arising from fire load, evacuation plan, and architectural and structural design, has become more and more well received, especially for those projects of complicated design.

     In Hong Kong, we are currently looking into the feasibility of leveraging on the fire engineering expertise available in the market by creating a registered fire engineers regime. The proposed regime would allow users to tap expertise from the industry and help enhance the efficiency of fire safety inspection and certification. We have consulted the engineering industry on the proposal before and noted that they generally welcome it. As the proposal involves a wide range of complex issues in relation to legislation and implementation, we, together with Fire Services Department and Buildings Department, are carefully considering on how to take it forward. We will certainly need to engage the Fire Division of HKIE for professional advice as well. With over 560 members and a resourceful international network, the organisation has provided the Government with valuable advice all along. I would also like to express my heartfelt appreciation for the contribution of the Fire Division of the HKIE on enhancing building fire safety in Hong Kong.

     Lastly, I wish you all have fruitful exchanges today and the symposium a resounding success. Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:53


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