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
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.
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
- Appoint an Authorized Person and/or Registered Structural Engineer and Registered Contractor to carry out the fire safety improvement works required under the Directions.
|Type of Improvement Works||Exempted building works||Works required prior approval and consent from the Building Authority||Minor Works|
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.
- 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: http://www.ura.org.hk/
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:
|Type of Building||Description of Building||Under Scope of Ordinance|
|Prescribed Commercial Premises (PCP)||
||Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Ordinance (Cap. 502) [FS(CP)O]|
|Specified Commercial Buildings (SCB)||
||Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Ordinance (Cap. 502) [FS(CP)O]|
|Composite Buildings and Domestic Buildings (CDB(FS))||
||Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance (Cap. 572) [FS(B)O]|
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||
|Non-compliance with a Fire Safety Compliance Order or a Fire Safety Improvement Compliance Order||
|Contravention of a Use Restriction Order or Prohibition Order||
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).
- Details please see: Integrated Building Maintenance Assistance Scheme (IBMAS)
- Elderly owners may seek financial assistance from the Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Elderly Owners (BMGS).
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.