Hong Kong implements a systematic revision of old buildings after deadly fire

Hong Kong authorities will inspect 2,500 old residential buildings after a deadly fire killed seven people at an apartment building in Yau Ma Tei last Sunday.

By the end of the year, the fire Services Department (FSD) and Buildings Department (BD) will target to inspect 2,500 domestic or composite buildings that are over 60 years old and are not occupied by single families, according to the government press release.


The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, inspecting the scene for fatal fire at Yau Ma Tei on November 16, 2020.
Photo taken from the Hong Kong government website.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that she was deeply saddened by the recent fire and hopes to enhance the fire safety in buildings.

“The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government attaches great importance to fire safety in buildings, in particular those aged buildings with fire safety facilities not up to the current standard,” Lam said. “The FSD and the BD will inspect old buildings to request property owners or occupants to rectify irregularities, providing necessary assistance in the process.”

“In light of the risks exposed by this fire accident, I have asked the FSD and the BD to further step up inspections to eliminate serious fire safety threats to safeguard people’s lives and property,” Lam added.

The FSD and BD will pay special attention to the conditions of the buildings’ common means of escapes and if there are potential fire hazards.

The departments will also be taking more strict measures against contraventions through enforcement actions including prosecution against offenders to safeguard fire and building safety.


The Yau Ma Tei site where the fire broke out.
Photo/ Alvin Lam

Under the current fire safety ordinance cap.572, the composite and domestic buildings must be equipped with:

  • automatic sprinkler system
  • fire hydrant and hose reel system
  • emergency lighting in both common and non-common areas
  • automatic cut-off device for the mechanical ventilating system in both common and non-common area
  • means of escape
  • fire resisting construction
  • means of access for firefighting and rescue

Owners or occupiers who fail to comply with the fire safety order may be fined up to 250,000 HKD or imprisoned for three years.

The FSD will further conduct fire safety inspections on the gathering places of local ethnic minorities and relevant groups specifically to enhance their knowledge on fire safety.

Being the densest city in the word, Hong Kong has always been under the threat of fire.

Last Sunday night, seven people were killed and 11 injured from a fire at an unlicensed restaurant called Jeere Khursani located on Canton Road, Yau Ma Tei.


The building, situated near the intersection of Canton Road and Saigon Street, is now cordoned off.
Photo/ Alvin Lam

According to a South China Morning Post (SCMP) report, most of the casualties were Nepalese including an 8-year-old boy, who were celebrating a birthday party and Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.


People continue to pay their respects after the November 18 night memorial.
Photo/ Alvin Lam

FSD said that the building was not equipped with fire extinguishing systems such as sprinklers.

The blaze was the deadliest since the fire in 2009 that killed nine people.

(Featured image by Alvin Lam)

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