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LCQ9: Schools located in commercial buildings

     Following is a question by the Hon Lau Wong-fat and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (November 24):


     It has been learnt that there is a growing number of organisations which are offering children interest classes in multi-storey commercial buildings.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that children, especially young ones, have to be assisted or even be carried by adults when escaping from a fire, whether the Government will review the existing legislation to tighten the regulation of fire services installations and means of escape for the venues of children interest classes in multi-storey commercial buildings; and

(b) whether the Government will consider restricting children interest classes to be held only in units on or below a particular floor of a building to avoid heavy casualties in case of a fire because many young children cannot escape in time?



     Pursuant to the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123), every building shall be provided with such safety measures including fire service installations and equipment, means of escape in case of emergency, means of access for firefighting and rescue and fire resisting construction as may be required by the intended use of the building.  In addition, the Fire Services Department would also inspect specified commercial buildings and issue Fire Safety Improvement Directions under the Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Ordinance (Cap. 502). As commercial buildings have a wide variety of uses and heavy flow of people, the existing legislation has prescribed standards of fire safety measures for this type of buildings to protect the buildings and safeguard the safety of occupiers, users and visitors in case of fire or other emergency.

     Furthermore, schools registered or provisionally registered under the Education Ordinance (the Ordinance) (Cap. 279), irrespective of their modes of operation or whether they are located in commercial buildings, must comply with the requirements in respect of fire service installations and equipment and sanitation under the Ordinance.  Schools located in commercial buildings are required to obtain as pre-requisites from the relevant authorities (e.g. the Fire Services Department and the Buildings Department) certificates or notices stating that the premises concerned are structurally safe and suitable for the purposes of a school.  No part of any school premises, except the parapet wall round a roof playground, shall be situated at a height of more than 24 meters above ground level unless the Permanent Secretary for Education, with the advice of the Director of Fire Services, has issued written approval.  As regards those interest classes for children not offering educational activities (e.g. singing and ballet), they do not fall within the regulatory ambit of the Ordinance since they are not schools as defined in the Ordinance.

Ends/Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Issued at HKT 12:23


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