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Fire safety

Fire Safety Improvement

Fire safety is one of the primary considerations in building designs. Some of the building components are designed to resist fire and to prevent spread of fire and protect people and their properties from the effect of fire. Adequate means of escape are also necessary in the event of fire and other emergencies.

Common Fire Safety Provisions Found in Buildings

Fire rated door
Fire rated door
Fixed Light
Fixed Light
Enclosures to Non-emergency Services
Enclosures to Non-emergency Services

What should owners do?

Keep the fire safety provisions under proper maintenance. Unauthorised alterations to these fire safety provisions may reduce their fire resisting properties and thus the fire safety of the building.

See also: Unauthorised Alteration of Fire Resisting Construction in Buildings

Points to note during maintenance of building

If unauthorised alteration or defective fire resisting construction is found, the owner, the owner's corporation or the management company should enlist the service of an Authorized Person to:

  • Advise on the conditions
  • Propose improvement works
  • Apply for approval and consent for commencement of improvement works from the Building Authority as necessary

Old buildings do not meet all the current fire safety standards; therefore owners are expected to carry out basic or essential improvement works to provide better protection to the occupants in case of fire.

Check the following reference for details.

Owners should, in their own interest, take the initiative to complete the required improvement works in their premises/buildings so as to comply with the Fire Safety Directions / Fire Safety Improvement Directions within the specified period, concerning:

  • Means of escape in case of fire,
  • Means of access for fire fighting and rescue,
  • Measures inhibiting the spread of fire and ensuring the structural integrity

Owners should:

  • Appoint an Authorized Person and/or Registered Structural Engineer and Registered Contractor to carry out the fire safety improvement works required under the Directions.

Search for Eligible Professionals Online Search for Eligible Contractors Online

Improvement Works
Type of Improvement Works Exempted building works Works required prior approval and consent from the Building Authority Minor Works
  • installation of fire service water tank
  • provision of additional exit route
  • addition of required staircase etc.
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  • replacement of fire rated doors
  • provision of fire rated enclosures to non-emergency services within the escape staircases
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  • replacement of windows to fixed light within the escape staircases
  • Exempted building works:
    Building professionals are recommended to be appointed.
  • Works required prior approval and consent from the Building Authority:
    Authorized Persons/ Registered Structural Engineer are required to be appointed.
  • Minor Works:
    Prescribed registered contractor and/or prescribed building professional are required to be appointed with respect to the relevant minor works item.

Should fire rated door be tested against BS or BS EN Standard? What are the acceptance criteria?

Both BS and BS EN Standards are acceptable. For a fire rated door, it should be accompanied by the supplier's statement and test report/and assessment report demonstrating that the door has been tested by an accredited laboratory and complies with the required standards.

In general, the installation of a fire rated door should meet the requirements below:

  • Solid timber construction or accord with the construction specified in the test report.
  • Firmly implanted to the surrounding walls without any visible gaps.
  • Provision of door closer.

Can a lock be installed at the fire rated doors?

Generally, it is not acceptable to install a locking device in a fire rated door across an exit of a building.

If it is necessary to secure an exit door against entry from outside, the locking device shall be of the type which is capable of being readily opened from the inside without the use of key, or if electrical lock is used, the lock should be released automatically at times of power failure.

Can the FS water tank be placed on the roof?

The building owner should consult an Authorized Person and/or Registered Structural Engineer with a view to assessing the structural adequacy of the affected existing structure including vetting of approved structural plans/details and on-site verification of the conditions of existing structural elements.

If building works including the strengthening of the existing structures are involved, a proposal for alteration and addition works should be submitted to BD for approval.

Owner should:

  • notify the Fire Safety Section of the BD
  • provide copies of all certificates / test reports / assessment reports of the fire rated doors, fixed lights to the windows and fire rated enclosures to non-emergency services within the escape staircases.

BD will arrange and conduct compliance inspection as soon as possible.

How to handle the improvement works in the common parts of the building?

The co-owners of the building should arrange to carry out the works. If an Owners' Corporation (OC) has been formed under the Building Management Ordinance (BMO), the OC should arrange for the carrying out of the improvement works. Home Affairs Department would assist in formation of the OC under the BMO.

What if certain improvement works are not complied with due to site constraints?

  • The owner may contact the responsible BD officers to discuss possible alternatives to suit site conditions or need to appoint a consultant or an Authorized Person to propose alternative solutions.
  • The Buildings Department will adopt a flexible and pragmatic approach to enforce the Fire Safety Direction/ Fire Safety Improvement Direction.

Besides, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) provides relevant guidance and advice to owners of domestic and composite buildings who have joined the rehabilitation schemes. For details of scheme, please refer to the URA's website:

What if the improvement works cannot be completed before the specified period?

The owners should apply in writing to the BD for an extension of time with supporting documents including:

  • owners' corporation meeting notes
  • tender documents
  • work schedule
  • tenancy agreement
  • evidence of work having started
  • temporary health problems, etc.

What is Fire Safety Direction / Fire Safety Improvement Direction?

The Fire Safety Direction or Fire Safety Improvement Direction is issued to direct the owners to improve the fire safety standard of their premises/building in accordance with the fire safety construction measures under the Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Ordinance and Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance within a specified period.

The Buildings Department inspects and issues Fire Safety Directions and Fire Safety Improvement Directions to the following type of buildings:

Improvement Direction
Type of Building Description of Building Under Scope of Ordinance
Prescribed Commercial Premises (PCP)
  • Used or is proposed to be used for carrying on commercial activities as banking (other than merchant banking), off-course betting, jewelry or goldsmith's business with security area, supermarket, hypermarket or department store and shopping arcade; and
  • Total floor area of the building or part exceeds 230m2.
Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Ordinance (Cap. 502) [FS(CP)O]
Specified Commercial Buildings (SCB)
  • Constructed to be used or is being used for office, business, trade or entertainment; and
  • Constructed on or before 1st March 1987, or building works with plans first submitted to the Building Authority for approval on or before 1st March 1987.
Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Ordinance (Cap. 502) [FS(CP)O]
Composite Buildings and Domestic Buildings (CDB(FS))
  • Constructed, or intended to be used,
    1. partly for domestic purposes and partly for non-domestic purposes; or
    2. for domestic purposes with more than 3 storeys; and
  • Constructed on or before 1st March 1987, or building works with plans first submitted to the Building Authority for approval on or before 1st March 1987.
Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance (Cap. 572) [FS(B)O]

Enforcement Actions

Non-compliance with the Fire Safety Directions

In default, an application may be made to a magistrate for a Fire Safety Compliance Order or a Fire Safety Improvement Compliance Order directing the owner to comply with the requirements specified in the Direction.

An application may also be made to the District Court for a Use Restriction Order to prohibit the premises from being used for carrying on any prescribed commercial activity, or a Prohibition Order to prohibit occupation of the relevant building or part thereof.


Type of Offences Penalty Level
Non-compliance with a Fire Safety Direction or a Fire Safety Improvement Direction
  • liable on conviction to a fine at level 4 (maximum fine of HK$25,000); and
  • further fine of HK$2,500 for each day
Non-compliance with a Fire Safety Compliance Order or a Fire Safety Improvement Compliance Order
  • liable on conviction to a fine at level 5 (maximum fine of HK$50,000); and
  • further fine of HK$5,000 for each day
Contravention of a Use Restriction Order or Prohibition Order
  • liable on conviction to a fine of HK$250,000;
  • imprisonment for 3 years; and
  • further fine of HK$25,000 for each day

Financial Assistance

Owners in need of financial assistance for carrying out the specified works in complying with Directions may apply for subsidy or loan under the one-stop Integrated Building Maintenance Assistance Scheme (IBMAS).

Technical Assistance

Owners in need of technical assistance and related maintenance information, for example, normal tender procedure etc., for carrying out the specified works in complying with Directions, can visit: "Building Rehab Info Net".

Fire Safety Improvement Works Subsidy Scheme

The Chief Executive announced in the 2017 Policy Address that the Government plans to devote $2 billion to launch the Fire Safety Improvement Works Subsidy Scheme to subsidise owners of old composite buildings to undertake fire safety enhancement measures as required by the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance (Cap. 572). Eligible building may receive a subsidy not exceeding 60% of the costs of works and consultancy fees, or the corresponding cap imposed on that category of buildings, whichever is the less.

Further Information


Supplementary Information