LCQ10: Fire safety measures of composite and domestic buildings

     Following is a question by the Hon Alvin Yeung and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr John Lee, in the Legislative Council today (July 5):

     The Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance (Cap. 572), which has come into operation since July 1, 2007, stipulates that the fire safety of composite and domestic buildings which were constructed or with their plans of the building works first submitted for approval on or before March 1, 1987 must be enhanced to better meet the current requirements.  The Buildings Department (BD) and the Fire Services Department (FSD), which are responsible for enforcing the Ordinance, are conducting inspections by two phases consecutively on those composite buildings and domestic buildings which are within the scope of the Ordinance and, where necessary, issue Fire Safety Directions (Directions), such as the installation of water tanks, hose reel systems or other fire safety installations, to the owners or occupiers concerned for their compliance within a specified period. However, quite a number of members of the owners' corporations (OCs) of such buildings have relayed to me that they have encountered quite a number of difficulties in complying with the Directions, including the absence of any registered fire service installation contractor (contractor) willing to undertake the works concerned. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) as the authorities expected that the first phase of inspections would be completed within nine years after the commencement of Cap. 572, whether the work concerned has now been completed; if so, of the completion date; if not, of the number and percentage of the composite buildings within the scope of the Ordinance which have been inspected as at March 31 this year, and the expected completion time of the first phase of inspections;
(2) whether the second phase of inspections has commenced; if so, of the commencement date, as well as the number and percentage of the domestic buildings within the scope of the Ordinance which have been inspected as at March 31 this year; the expected completion time of the second phase of inspections;

(3) of (i) the number of cases in which owners or occupiers concerned applied to FSD or BD for extension of the deadlines for complying with the Directions, and (ii) the number and percentage of such cases approved, in each of the past three years; and

(4) of the concrete assistance rendered by the Government to OCs to address their problem of being unable to engage contractors to undertake fire safety works for their buildings?



     The Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance (Cap. 572) (the Ordinance) came into operation on July 1, 2007. It stipulates that fire safety measures of composite and domestic buildings which were constructed on or before March 1, 1987, or with their plans of the building works first submitted for approval on or before that day (i.e. target buildings), should be enhanced to meet the current requirements. Under the Ordinance, the enforcement authority on fire safety measures in relation to planning, design and construction of buildings is the Director of Buildings, while the enforcement authority in relation to fire service installations and equipment is the Director of Fire Services. The Fire Services Department (FSD) and the Buildings Department (BD) will issue Fire Safety Directions (Directions) to owners and/or occupiers with regard to fire safety measures of the relevant buildings and specify the required fire safety improvement works.

     My reply to the different parts of the Hon Yeung's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) Based on BD's information, about 13 000 target buildings are regulated under the Ordinance. FSD and BD conduct joint inspections to these buildings in two stages. About 10 000 target composite buildings (TCBs) will be inspected in the first stage, after which about 3 000 target domestic buildings (TDBs) will be inspected in the second stage.

     The two departments are now conducting the first stage of inspections. As at end March 2017, the two departments have completed inspection of 8 212 TCBs, accounting for 82 per cent of the inspection target for the first stage. The departments will continue the inspections with an annual target of 400 buildings. The first stage is expected to be completed by 2022 according to the current progress.  The second stage of inspecting TDBs will be commenced after completion of the first-stage inspection.
(3) FSD and BD normally give owners or occupiers one year to comply with the Directions. Upon receipt of the Directions, the owners or occupiers need time to co-ordinate for the works, collect funds, conduct tender exercises and engage building/engineering consultants and contractors for carrying out the fire safety improvement works. If the relevant owners or occupiers need more time to prepare for and carry out the improvement works, for example due to the time needed to form an owners' corporation (OC), the departments will, where appropriate and provided that fire safety would not be compromised, consider extending the compliance period of the Directions in the light of the justifications provided and the progress of works and so forth, with a view to allowing sufficient time for the owners or occupiers to carry out the works.

     From the implementation of the Ordinance till end March 2017, 5 278 and 1 387 TCBs were granted extension of time in complying with the Directions by FSD and BD respectively. The two departments do not keep separate statistics of the number and year of applications for extension of time.

(4) To facilitate owners and occupiers to obtain information of contractors qualified for carrying out fire safety improvement works, FSD has uploaded onto its website for public information all registered fire service installation contractors (RFSICs) in the territory, with a dedicated list of those RFSICs who have indicated their intention to undertake fire safety improvement works under the Ordinance.

     In addition, to help RFSICs better understand the requirements of works under the Ordinance and to raise their interests in undertaking such works, FSD organised 11 seminars for them in the past two years and received good responses from the trade. FSD will continue its publicity efforts in this respect.
     Besides, BD has uploaded registers of authorised persons, registered structural engineers, registered inspectors and registered contractors, etc. onto its website, as well as a list of those registered persons and contractors who have indicated interest in conducting improvement works in relation to fire safety constructions under the Ordinance for reference by the owners and OCs.

Ends/Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:42