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  HAD offers assistance to people affected by Tsuen Wan fire

Tsuen Wan District Office (TWDO) is offering assistance to people affected by the fire broke out at Yi Pei Square, Tsuen Wan this morning (February 5). The TWDO has opened the Lei Muk Shue Community Hall as a temporary shelter for those people in need with water, food, blankets and mattresses provided. As at 7.30pm, 15 affected persons have registered at the Lei Muk Shue Community Hall.

While the festive season is approaching, the Home Affairs Department (HAD) appeals to the members of the public to take appropriate fire prevention measures to safeguard their lives and properties.

A spokesman for the HAD said that the Government is highly concerned about fire prevention work. Before approaching of the dry seasons, HAD has already organised an inter-departmental working meeting with the District Fire Safety Committees of 18 districts, and mapped out a series of public education and promotion activities to effectively disseminate the message of fire prevention in the community. Apart from reminding owners and occupants of the buildings which are facing serious problems of subdivided flats and the "three nil" buildings (i.e. those without owners' corporations (OCs), residents' organisations or property management companies (PMCs)) to work on fire prevention, HAD has stepped up publicity efforts with special focus on enhancing the fire safety awareness of the elderly, domestic helpers as well as ethnic minorities.

"In 2014-15, some 210 large-scale fire prevention promotion and education activities have been held in the 18 districts, including carnivals, fire drills, fire prevention seminars, parades and exhibitions."

He supplements that through their district networks, the District Offices have sent letters to more than 13 000 residents' organisations (including OCs, mutual aid committees and owners’ committees) and more than 1 600 Resident Liaison Ambassadors (RLAs) living in the "three nil" buildings to enhance their awareness on fire prevention and remind them to ensure the effective operations of fire service equipment and the fire safety of their buildings. The Office of the Licensing Authority (OLA) under the HAD has also sent letters to the persons-in-charge of licensed hotels, guesthouses, clubs and bedspace apartments in the territory to appeal them to enhance the fire prevention work. OLA officers also check the fire safety equipment of these licensed premises and ensure all fire escapes are free from obstruction during routine inspections.

In addition, HAD has significantly enhanced efforts to provide support to old buildings such as introducing the Building Management Professional Advisory Service Scheme (BMPASS). Professional PMCs are commissioned to provide tailor-made and one-stop professional advisory services and support to "three-nil" buildings. These services include preparing and producing management audit reports on common areas and equipment (including fire services installations and fire escapes) of the buildings, assisting the owners in the formation of OCs and applying for various subsidies or loan schemes for maintenance works, following up on the works and tendering matters. The first phase of BMPASS was completed in March, 2014, benefitting 1 200 buildings. Currently, HAD is implementing the second phase to provide assistance to another new batch of 1 200 "three-nil" buildings.

Noting that old buildings face great difficulties in forming OCs and management as the majority of owners are not living in the buildings concerned, the HAD has launched the RLA Scheme and successfully recruited over 1 600 residents from some 780 "three-nil" buildings to serve as RLAs. The RLAs will contact other residents living in the same building and engage them in matters relating to daily building management, security, fire safety and so on. Not only can RLAs help improve the management of these buildings effectively, but they can also refer the safety hazards of the buildings to relevant government departments quickly for immediate follow-up actions.

Meanwhile, the HAD has implemented the Subsidy for Owners' Corporations of Old Buildings programme, funded by the Community Care Fund, to provide eligible owners of old buildings with a maximum subsidy of $20 000 for three years. The OCs can make use of the subsidy to clear fire escapes and conduct regular inspections of fire preventions and electrical and mechanical equipment, etc.. So far, more than 1 840 applications amounted to $8 million have been approved.

Ends/Thursday, February 5, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:47