Storage areas still a danger after deadly blaze

Top News | Sophie Hui Jun 16, 2017
Nearly a year after the deadly Ngau Tau Kok fire, only four out of 764 mini- storages have fulfilled all fire-safety requirements set by the Fire Services Department.

The department sent out safety- improvement orders to 764 out of 885 storage areas to make improvements against fire hazards.

There has been no prosecution over storage areas breaking fire-safety rules so far, as the department allows them to apply for more time to make improvements.

Deputy chief fire officer (fire safety) Chui Man-leung said: "If they adopt a positive attitude to rectify or improve the safety level of the mini-storage, we will permit them to extend the time frame to comply with the notice."

Up to June 11, the department has issued more than 4,900 fire-hazard abatement notices to 764 mini-storages, but less than 5 percent of them, or 239 notices, have been fulfilled.

However, Chui said a few mini- storages did not improve the safety level and the authority will prosecute them soon.

The department required operators to rearrange or modify the cubicles in a row or a cluster, where the width of the corridor to separate cubicles should not be less than 2.4 meters, and the distance between the ceiling and the top of storage cubicles not less than one meter, or height of the storage cubicles not more than 2.35 meters.

Mini-storages will have fewer cubicles after they have been modified to meet requirements.

Only three existing mini-storages and one new mini-storage have fulfilled all fire-safety requirements. One of the four said the modification has increased costs, and the price of renting a 100-square-foot cubicle had increased from HK$1,400 a month to more than HK$3,000.

However, an unspecified number of mini-storages will try to fulfill a set of requirements to reduce chance of fire hazards, including using refractory material to cover the cubicles to make it fire resistant for 30 minutes.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, said: "It is understood that not many mini-storages can follow the 2.4m rule since places are small. If fire services have checked the mini-storage and think it is fine to apply the alternative plan, then it should be fine."

Two firefighters were killed in the Ngau Tau Kok fire on June 21 last year which burned for 108 hours.

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June 2017