9,578 buildings fail to comply with fire safety directives, most in Yau Tsim Mong and Sham Shui Po follow

New Lucky House

12th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) Buildings Department disclosed that as of the end of last year, 9,578 buildings across the city had failed to comply with mandatory fire safety directives, with the highest numbers reported in the Yau Tsim Mong District, affecting 1,843 buildings. This district, along with Sham Shui Po, Central and Western, and Kowloon City districts, accounts for over half of the non-compliant properties, highlighting a critical oversight in urban safety.

The New Lucky House in Jordan tragically exemplifies the dangers of such non-compliance. The building, issued with fire safety improvement notices by the Buildings Department as far back as 2008, has seen no significant action taken over the past 16 years, a negligence that came to a head in a recent No.3 alarm fire incident.

The Buildings Department has been actively enforcing regulations, including issuing warning letters and prosecuting owners who fail to provide a reasonable explanation for their non-compliance. Under the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance, failure to follow these legal directives without an acceptable excuse is punishable by a level 4 fine of HK$25,000, with additional daily fines of HK$2,500 for continuing non-compliance.

In response to the ongoing crisis, the government is proposing amendments to the ordinance that would empower enforcement authorities to undertake fire safety enhancement works on behalf of non-compliant building owners and recover the costs upon completion. These proposed changes were presented to the Legislative Council’s Panel on Security on 5th December last year, with plans to expedite the drafting of the bill for review this year.