LCQ6: Children interest classes conducted in multi-storey commercial buildings

     Following is a question by the Hon Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun on behalf of the Hon Lau Wong-fat and a reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (January 5):


     In reply to my question on children interest classes conducted in multi-storey commercial buildings raised on November 24, 2010, the Government did not indicate that it would review the existing legislation regarding regulation of fire services installations and means of escape for the venues of such interest classes.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council, given that children, especially the younger ones, need to be assisted or even carried by adults to escape from the fire scene in case of a fire, whether the Government has assessed if the regulation of fire services installations and means of escape for the venues of children interest classes in multi-storey commercial buildings at present is sufficient to safeguard the safety of these young children in case of a fire; if such an assessment has been made, of the outcome?



     As mentioned in our written reply of November 24, 2010 to the question raised by Hon Lau, 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 relevant requirements regarding fire service installations and equipment, and sanitation.  Therefore, in respect of applications for registration by schools located in commercial buildings, Education Bureau would approve only those which have obtained 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.  In addition, 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 children interest classes not offering educational courses (eg singing, painting), they are not schools as defined in the Ordinance and they do not fall within the regulatory ambit of the Ordinance.  Nevertheless, children, especially the younger ones, are normally accompanied by adults when attending interest classes.  The adults present would help the young children escape from the scene in case of a fire.

     The Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123) and the Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Ordinance (Cap. 502) require that every building shall be provided with safety measures including fire service installations and equipment, means of escape in case of emergency, means of access for firefighting and rescue as well as fire resisting construction.  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, the Government monitors different kinds of premises by way of licensing or registration regimes, and would also, in the light of the additional risks of fire of specific premises, impose more stringent fire safety requirements.

Ends/Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:19