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LCQ18: Safety of public entertainment events

     Following is a question by the Hon Ip Kwok-him and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (May 18):


     A local singer held the territory's first ever 4D concert with a series of nine shows at the Central promenade from the 28th of last month to the 7th of this month. However, as the marquee materials used for the temporary structure erected for the concert had failed to meet the relevant fire prevention standards, the Fire Services Department (FSD) did not issue a fire service certificate and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department therefore refused to issue a Temporary Places of Public Entertainment Licence (temporary licence) for the concert. As a result, the premiere show was cancelled just two hours before it was due to start. Subsequently, the organiser concerned was issued with the temporary licence after removing the marquee, enabling the remaining shows of the concert to be held as scheduled. It is learnt that FSD had, during the vetting and approval process of the temporary licence, followed up on the fire safety of the relevant venue on 10 occasions and reminded the organiser of the fire safety requirements to be met. Furthermore, it is learnt that there were a number of past cases in which organisers of major events held in open area were issued with the temporary licence only at the very last moment due to issues concerning venue or other factors. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the authorities will consider making available, for reference by event organisers and the public, a "condensed info-pack" on application for temporary licences, with contents on the requirements in respect of fire safety (e.g. the fire prevention standards required of decorative materials used in venues), structural safety of structures, electrical installation, environmental protection legislation, crowd management, etc; if they will, of the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) given that a number of visitors coming from afar for the premiere show ended up leaving in disappointment, whether the authorities have assessed the impact of the incident on Hong Kong's tourism industry; if they have, of the assessment outcome, and whether they have taken remedial measures; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) given the occurrence of a dust deflagration incident at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City of Taiwan in June last year which caused 15 deaths and 484 injuries, whether the authorities have learnt any lesson from that incident and introduced more stringent fire safety requirements for major public entertainment events; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     Any person who intends to keep or use places of public entertainment (PPE) shall apply to the licensing authority for a licence under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance (Cap. 172). As the licensing authority, the Secretary for Home Affairs authorises the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene to handle related licence applications. The requirement for a licence application serves the primary purpose of ensuring public safety and order at places of entertainment where members of the public congregate. The licensing requirements cover a number of aspects such as fire safety, building safety, electrical and mechanical equipment, ventilation, crowd management, hygiene and so forth. In this connection, all PPE shall comply with the requirements set by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) and other departments concerned (e.g. Fire Services Department, Buildings Department, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and Hong Kong Police Force).

     Our consolidated reply to the Hon Ip Kwok-him's question is as follows:

(1) Upon receipt of an application for a PPE licence, FEHD shall in the first place consider the nature of the activity, and, in the light of the category and venue of the activity in question, seek the views of the departments concerned. The FEHD, together with relevant departments, will issue a Letter of Requirements indicating the requirements for the applicant's compliance in respect of his application. Upon confirmation of the applicants' compliance of such requirements during site inspections by the departments concerned, and, subsequent to the issuance of relevant certificates to the applicant, FEHD will inform the applicant of the approval of his application.

     A guide to application for a PPE licence has been issued by FEHD with information on the application processes and relevant licensing conditions (e.g. fire safety and building safety). Relevant details have been uploaded onto FEHD's website.

     In terms of fire safety requirements, the Fire Services Department (FSD) has also uploaded typical fire safety requirements in respect of an application for a temporary PPE licence onto its website for public reference. Furthermore, in the letter issued to the applicant on relevant fire safety requirements, FSD will notify the applicant that any queries about fire safety in the course of licence application may be directly addressed to FSD's case officers.

(2) The event organiser was fully in charge of the planning of the music activity concerned, which included making appropriate arrangements for local audience and incoming visitors affected by the cancellation of the premiere show on April 28.

     Given that the music activity was not a tourist project, and that the cancellation of the premiere show was considered a single incident, no assessment has been made by relevant bureau/department on the impact of this incident on Hong Kong's tourist industry.

(3) The FSD, all along assigns officers to conduct site inspections in respect of each application for a temporary PPE licence and to get hold of information such as the nature of the activity, mode of performance, props and materials to be used and so forth, upon which fire safety risk assessments will be carried out and appropriate fire safety requirements shall be laid down for the applicant's compliance to ensure public safety.

     In view of the dust deflagration incident in New Taipei City of Taiwan last year, FSD has reviewed the procedures for handling applications for temporary PPE licences where fire safety requirements are involved, so as to explore any room for enhancement. After the review, FSD has put in place new measures whereby case officers shall, in addition to basic procedures like detailed examination of the information on the application form and site inspections, take the initiative to require the applicant to confirm whether any special effects (including pyrotechnics, fireworks and dust) will be used during the activity, so as to facilitate the conduct of fire safety risk assessments and the formulation of appropriate fire safety requirements.

Ends/Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:46


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