Government takes action on fire safety non-compliance at New Lucky House

New Lucky House

21st May 2024 – (Hong Kong) The government has announced its ongoing efforts to address the fire incident at New Lucky House and the non-compliance issues related to the Fire Safety Directions. In a statement released today, a government spokesman emphasized its commitment to assisting building owners who are willing to comply with the Fire Safety Directions and complete necessary fire safety improvement works promptly. However, if owners neglect the Directions or make insufficient progress without a reasonable excuse, the Fire Services Department (FSD) and the Buildings Department (BD) will initiate prosecution procedures.

According to the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance (Cap. 572), composite and domestic buildings constructed on or before 1st March, 1987, or with building plans submitted to the BD for approval on or before that day, must be upgraded to meet modern fire protection requirements. The FSD and BD are responsible for enforcing the Ordinance, which includes issuing Directions to owners and/or occupiers, specifying the required fire safety improvements. The FSD’s Directions focus on fire service installations and equipment, such as fire hydrant/hose reel systems and sprinkler systems, while the BD’s Directions focus on building construction, including fire-rated doors and fixed fire escape lights.

Although the buildings covered by the Ordinance were constructed according to the prevailing construction and fire safety standards at the time, the objective of the Ordinance is to enhance fire safety standards in targeted old buildings, ensuring better protection for residents and users.

The government intends to intensify its efforts to ensure timely compliance with the Directions. The Security Bureau (SB) and the FSD have joined a collaboration platform on building inspection and maintenance, established by the Development Bureau (DEVB) last year. Other members of this platform include the DEVB, the BD, the Home Affairs Department (HAD), and the Urban Renewal Authority (URA). The collaboration platform has devised strategies to address non-compliance with the Directions, with the following key actions:

  1. Increased Prosecution: Currently, there are approximately 9,000 buildings with expired Directions that have not yet complied. The FSD and BD will prioritize handling the over 2,000 buildings showing no active progress. Factors considered for prioritization include higher building age, absence of fire service installations and equipment, single-staircase design, presence of guest houses or unauthorized subdivided flats, and large-scale illegal structures. The BD and FSD will initiate prosecutions against owners of these buildings, starting from the second quarter of this year, if they fail to make progress without a reasonable excuse.
  2. Support for Subsidized Buildings: Under the $5.5 billion Fire Safety Improvement Works Subsidy Scheme, administered by the URA and funded by the government, approximately 3,000 applications have received Approval-in-Principle Letters in the first two rounds. The URA is currently processing around 1,300 applications received in the third round and will issue Approval-in-Principle Letters to eligible applicants starting this month. The URA will continue to support subsidized buildings and closely monitor the progress of their fire safety improvement works.
  3. Enhanced Public Education: The FSD and BD will conduct district briefings through the Central Platform on Building Management to explain compliance details. The HAD will actively invite owners’ corporations and non-compliant building owners to attend these briefings, where dedicated counters will provide face-to-face advice and assistance. The first briefing will be held in Tsuen Wan District on May 23, with information on future briefings available on the HAD’s website.

The government remains committed to monitoring the progress and effectiveness of these actions while continuously reviewing strategies for follow-up work. It will also adopt a comprehensive approach to improving fire safety standards, with the FSD Building Improvement Support Centre offering one-stop support services to owners and occupiers of old buildings to ensure compliance with the Ordinance.