Panel on Home Affairs
Meeting on 12 April 1999Purpose
Administrative measures to improve building
management and fire safety of private buildings
This paper informs Members of the administrative measures to improve building management and fire safety of private buildings.
2. About half of Hong Kong's population live in private multi-storey buildings many of which lack proper management and maintenance, resulting in dilapidation and safety problems. Government has been implementing administrative measures to improve safety and management of private buildings in order to help the owners to help themselves.
3. Government policy is to help the owners of private buildings to help themselves. We encourage and facilitate owners to manage their buildings properly. The Building Management Ordinance (Cap.344) provides a legal framework for the owners to form owners' corporations (OCs) and carry out their responsibilities of managing their buildings. We help them to form OCs and provide them with advice and information on effective building management.
4. Properly managed and maintained buildings have higher safety standards and provide better living environment. Towards this direction, the Administration has been taking progressive steps to improve the standards of building management and fire safety of private buildings. Our administrative measures are described in the following paragraphs.
Central Steering Committee on Fire Safety
5. A Central Steering Committee on Fire Safety, chaired by the Secretary for Home Affairs, has been established in March 1998 to actively promote fire safety and co-ordinate the community's efforts in this respect. Its membership comprises the Secretary for Security; Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands; Director of Home Affairs; Director of Fire Services; Director of Buildings; Director of Information Services and seven unofficial members. Representatives of other Bureaux and Departments as well as professional institutes will be invited to attend as necessary.
6. The Committee guides and co-ordinates the work of the District Fire Safety Committees (please see paragraph 8 below) to promote fire safety in private buildings. Under its auspices, we conducted a two-month public consultation on "Proposals to improve fire safety in private buildings" in mid-1998. The public has generally been receptive to our proposals. The relevant Bureaux and Departments are now studying the proposals' legal and administrative implications in details and will introduce the necessary legislative amendments to bring them to fruition (please see paragraph 17 below).
7. The Committee organized three high profile inter-departmental clearance operations at Eastern (April 1998), Yau Tsim Mong (May 1998) and Kwun Tong (November 1998). The purpose was to remove obstructions from means of escape of the buildings and promote fire safety. The operations aroused public interest and facilitated enforcement action by the Departments. More such operations will be conducted. In addition, the Fire Services Department (FSD) in late 1998 carried out an six weeksoperation in late 1998 which lasted six weeks to inspect the buildings previously identified as unsatisfactory in the territory-wide building survey of fire safety in early 1998. A total of 1,965 inspections were conducted had been made to 1,454 buildings, resulting in 22 direct prosecutions and issuing of 199 Fire Hazard Abatement Notices
District Fire Safety Committees
8. Since March 1998, District Fire Safety Committees (DFSCs) have been set up in 12 Districts to promote fire safety at the Districts. Each DFSC comprises unofficial members who are Provisional District Board Members, Area Committee Chairmen, local community leaders, or interested individuals from various professions, and official representatives of the relevant Departments. The main objective of the DFSCs is to enhance community involvement in promoting fire safety and building safety in private buildings. The DFSCs report their work to the Central Steering Committee on Fire Safety. Four more DFSCs will be set up in April 1999 and all of the 18 Districts will have their own DFSC by the end of 1999.
9. DFSCs organize activities including fire drills, talks and seminars on fire safety, carnivals, slogan competitions and visits to fire stations. Some DFSCs also held activities such as "model buildings on fire safety" and training courses for members of the fire safety groups recruited from the general public. The message of fire safety was disseminated to primary and secondary students through a variety of educational programmes. Between October 1998 and January 1999, a total of 15 fire drills were organized by the DFSCs and about 3,200 owners and occupants participated in these events. The feedback from the participants showed that fire drills were effective in enhancing their awareness of the importance of fire safety.
Building Management Resource Centre
10. The first Building Management Resource Centre (BMRC) in Yaumatei, Kowloon was opened on 13 May 1998. The BMRC provides information, services and advice on building management, safety and maintenance for building owners, occupants, OCs, Mutual Aid Committees (MACs) and management bodies. Free preliminary professional advice to members of the public are provided at the BMRC by the Law Society of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Society of Accountants, Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, Hong Kong Institute of Engineers, Hong Kong Institute of Housing and Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies.
11. As the demand for the services of BMRC is increasing, the Home Affairs Department (HAD) is actively planning for setting up a second BMRC in Central District in mid-1999.
Publicity on building management and fire safety
12. HAD has an ongoing educational and publicity programme to promote the community's awareness of the importance of building management and fire safety. Training courses, talks, seminars, exhibitions on building management are conducted in the Districts regularly. In 1999-2000, HAD plans to organize 80 events for 10,000 participants. Other promotional and publicity materials such as leaflets, booklets, TV and Radio Announcements of Public Interest, and educational video tapes are produced. The Information Services Department is conducting a major publicity campaign on fire safety in 1998-1999 to promote a fire safety culture in the community.
Fire Safety Checklist
13. To encourage and facilitate owners and occupants to carry out routine inspections of the fire safety provisions of their buildings and to rectify promptly the irregularities identified, HAD has, in conjunction with the relevant Departments, devised a Fire Safety Checklist in layman's terms. So far, some 50,000 copies of the Checklist have been distributed. Since December 1998, HAD has employed temporary staff to help promote fire safety. The temporary staff visit OCs, MACs and building management bodies to distribute and promote the Checklist. They also assist the owners and occupants in conducting self-inspection of buildings by using the Checklist.
Building Management Co-ordination Teams
14. For those private buildings with significant management and safety problems, we adopt a co-ordinated approach to improve their management. Since 1985, HAD has set up Building Management Co-ordination Teams (BMCTs) in 13 Districts to identify and target buildings with such problems and to co-ordinate the concerned Departments' efforts to help owners effect improvement works. So far, about 1,200 private buildings have been enlisted, with the owners' consent, as target buildings for improvement. About 500 buildings were removed from the target list upon satisfactory completion of improvement works co-ordinated by the BMCTs. HAD plans to establish BMCTs in two more Districts in 1999-2000.
Formation of owners' corporations (OCs)
15. The presence of management bodies (such as OCs) would help improve building management and maintenance. However, only 5800 OCs were formed in Hong Kong's 60,000 private buildings. Further efforts to encourage and facilitate owners to manage their properties, including formation of OCs, are needed. HAD, through its liaison network in the Districts, has been actively encouraging and advising owners to form OCs under the Building Management Ordinance (Cap.344) to manage their buildings. Subsequent to formation of OCs, Liaison Officers of the District Offices visit them as necessary, including attending their meetings when invited, to offer advice and assistance.
Fire Safety Ambassadors
16. FSD launched a Fire Safety Ambassador Scheme since May 1997 as part of our community efforts to enhance community awareness of and involvement in fire safety and to promote a fire safety culture. The Scheme covers the following organizations -
- Scouts Association of Hong Kong,
- Hong Kong Girl Guides Association,
- Fire Services Public Liaison Group,
- Estate Management Advisory Committee,
- Civil Aid Service,
- Auxiliary Medical Service,
- Road Safety Patrol,
- St. John Ambulance,
- Hong Kong Red Cross,
- Property Management Companies, and
- Lions Club.
As at 1 February 1999, FSD had conducted a total of 142 training courses including 42 courses for Fire Safety Ambassador (FSA) Trainers and 100 courses for FSAs. A total of 4,559 members from the above organizations have become FSAs. Apart from promoting fire safety, FSAs assist in reporting irregularity to FSD and helping to close the opened/wedged open fire stop doors. FSD plans to recruit a total of 10,000 FSAs/Trainers by the end of 1999.
167. We are proposing legislative amendments to improve the management of private buildings. The details are in Paper No.CB(2)451/98-99(01) entitled "Proposed Amendments to Building Management Ordinance" which has been circulated to Members by the Clerk to the Legislative Council Panel on Home Affairs.
178. Under the principle of "helping owners to help themselves", we will continue to actively promote the concept of effective building management and fire safety, and review the adequacy of our services. Meanwhile, comments from Members will be welcome.
Home Affairs Bureau