Fire risks abound at government offices

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 January, 1998, 12:00am

Fire doors have been blocked and power rooms swamped with rubbish in the offices of four government department heads - including Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie - for at least four months.

Hundreds of other civil servants work in the harbour view offices next to Pacific Place in Queensway.

Concerns over safety have increased following Tuesday's fire at Golden Court in Electric Road where there had been unauthorised alterations made to fire exits.

A woman of 66 lost her fight to live at Queen Mary Hospital yesterday, bringing the death toll to two. Forty-nine people were injured.

The blaze has prompted an inter-departmental taskforce to work out ways of arousing residents' safety awareness.

But the awareness of civil servants at the Queensway Government Offices was low.

A surprise check by the block's management office on Wednesday revealed 'regrettable' fire risks.

Some corridors and staircases were obstructed by furniture or rubbish. Some switch rooms were occupied without the management office's consent.

In a notice dated January 7, posted in the block's lift lobby, the management office said 'obstruction of common areas and unauthorised occupation of utilities rooms' were still spotted 'continuously'.

The office gave an ultimatum to the departments to rectify the conditions by today or all articles would be removed and dumped without prior notice. The South China Morning Post visited the offices yesterday afternoon and found a fire door in a stairwell of the high block wedged open. Building material was dumped in a corner on the third-floor staircase.

The 47-storey building houses the headquarters of the Justice, Architectural Services, Legal Aid and Urban Services departments.

The offices of the Company Registry and Land Registry, used by hundreds of researchers each day, are also in the block.

A secretary for Miss Leung, whose office occupies the fourth floor of the block, said the justice boss was too busy to respond to queries about fire safety.

The Urban Services Department, which occupies the 42nd to 45th floors, denied there were fire risks. A spokesman said: 'I am not aware of any obstruction.' Urban Property Management, which manages the block, refused to comment.