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Gov’t to prosecute building owners ignoring fire safety orders

Approximately 9,000 buildings currently stand with expired directions. 

The Hong Kong government has announced that it will prosecute building owners who ignore Fire Safety Directions or show poor progress without valid excuses starting this quarter.

The decision comes in the wake of continued scrutiny following the fire incident at New Lucky House, which highlighted non-compliance issues with Fire Safety Directions.

Approximately 9,000 buildings currently stand with expired directions. 

The government said priority will be given to addressing the situation in over 2,000 buildings showing no active progress towards compliance.

The Buildings Department (BD) will focus on structures aged 50 years or older, as well as on buildings lacking fire service installations, those featuring single-staircase designs, and properties with unauthorised subdivisions or large-scale illegal structures.

For the identified 2,000-plus buildings, both the BD and the Fire Services Department (FSD) will initiate prosecution against owners failing to make reasonable progress, following the issuance of warning letters or expiration of directions, commencing from the second quarter.

Moreover, government departments, including the Home Affairs Department, will actively engage with owners' corporations to clarify the requirements of the Fire Safety (Buildings) Ordinance. 

Additionally, the government is enhancing support for subsidised buildings through the $5.5b Fire Safety Improvement Works Subsidy Scheme, managed by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA). 

With around 3,000 applications receiving Approval-in-Principle Letters in the initial two rounds, the URA is currently processing around 1,300 applications from the third round, with approvals set to begin at the end of this month.

For subsidised buildings, the URA will intensify monitoring of fire safety improvement works, urging owners to expedite actions.

Subsidy approval will be revoked for cases failing to meet progress requirements despite reminders.

District briefings by the FSD and the BD will be conducted regularly, with the most recent session slated for May 23 in Tsuen Wan. 

Meanwhile, the government is expediting efforts to amend the ordinance, granting the FSD and the BD authority to conduct fire safety improvement works for non-compliant owners and recover relevant fees upon completion of mandated tasks. 

The proposed amendment bill aims for submission to the Legislative Council for scrutiny by July.

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