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LCQ8: Enhance fire safety of mini-storages

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Kwok-kin and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (July 6):


     On the 21st of last month, a No. 4 alarm fire broke out on several storeys of an industrial building in Kowloon Bay, which have been sub-divided into hundreds of rental mini-storages. The fire raged for several days before it was extinguished. According to the authorities, the complicated layout of the fire ground with corridors intertwining one another, coupled with the fact that all the mini-storages were locked, had increased the difficulty in putting out the blaze. The fire has aroused concern about the fire safety and regulation of mini-storages. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the current total number of mini-storages in Hong Kong as well as their geographical distribution;

(2) whether owners of industrial building units are required to obtain the authorities' prior approval before they convert the units into mini-storages; if so, of the application procedure and the government departments responsible for vetting and approving such applications;

(3) of the fire services and structural requirements that mini-storages have to comply with at present; given that the authorities indicated in November last year that there was no dedicated legislation regulating mini-storages, whether the authorities will explore enacting dedicated legislation to regulate such storages; and

(4) whether the authorities have formulated any codes and requirements specifying the items and types of items permitted to be stored in mini-storages for compliance by the industry; if they have not, how the authorities and operators of mini-storages ensure that the tenants will not store inflammable or dangerous items in the storages?


     In consultation with the relevant policy bureaux and departments, I provide a consolidated reply as follows:

     According to preliminary information available now, there are approximately some 400 mini-storages in Hong Kong and they are mainly located in industrial buildings in various districts. Regardless of the type of building in which the mini-storages are located, the building shall comply with the fire and building safety requirements applicable at the time the building was completed, as well as other applicable statutory requirements. If operators of mini-storages are to carry out alteration works for the units which are not exempted works or minor works under the Buildings Ordinance (Cap 123), approval of building plans and consent from the Buildings Department (BD) shall be obtained before commencement of works. In addition, no matter whether the works require prior approval from BD, it must comply with the provisions of the Buildings Ordinance. With respect to fire safety, mini-storages must comply with the relevant requirements on provision of means of escape and means of access for firefighting and rescue purposes, etc. In relation to the structural safety of buildings, floor slabs of mini-storages must conform to the relevant loading requirements. Furthermore, if owners intend to use their premises in industrial buildings as mini-storages, they are required to ensure that such uses are in compliance with the lease conditions of the building concerned, or have applied to and obtained from the Lands Department (LandsD) temporary waiver permitting the intended use. If any non-compliance is found during inspections, the Fire Services Department (FSD) will issue Fire Hazard Abatement Notices in accordance with the Fire Services Ordinance (Cap 95), requesting related persons to abate the identified fire hazards.  

     The inter-departmental working group formed to enhance the fire safety of mini-storages convened its first meeting on June 27 to discuss short, medium and long-term measures to enhance the fire safety of mini-storages and similar premises.

     FSD, BD, LandsD and the Labour Department have begun inspections of mini-storages and similar premises in Hong Kong on June 28 to check if there is any breach of the existing statutory requirements. FSD and relevant government departments have also arranged to meet with the major operators of mini-storages in Hong Kong. The departments will request the operators to take all possible management measures as soon as possible to improve fire safety, including increasing the number of security personnel, preventing storage of dangerous goods, strengthening fire prevention training for their employees, etc. The working group will next discuss how to amend the law in order to strengthen the regulation of mini-storages.  

     FSD is the regulatory authority of dangerous goods (excluding Class 1 Dangerous Goods and Liquefied Petroleum Gas) on land in Hong Kong. Any storage of dangerous goods in excess of their statutory exempted quantity in general commercial premises and industrial building units shall require a Dangerous Goods Licence from FSD. In order to enhance public awareness of safe storage of dangerous goods, FSD will from time to time remind operators of different industries about the importance of safety management of dangerous goods. For example, FSD issued letters to logistics and freight forwarding companies in September 2015 to draw their attention to the safety measures to note during daily operations, and the statutory requirements set out in the Dangerous Goods Ordinance (Cap 295) that no person shall store, convey or use any dangerous goods exceeding exempt quantity without a licence. FSD will continue to combat illegal activities regarding over-storage of dangerous goods through enforcement actions.

Ends/Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:58


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