Fund to upgrade facilities 'too small'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 February, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 February, 1998, 12:00am

A fund to help owners of commercial buildings upgrade their fire safety facilities is inadequate, say provisional legislators.

The $200 million fund, down from the $500 million agreed in October, would benefit owners of about 400 pre-1973 commercial buildings, while another 1,000 pre-1987 commercial buildings were to be inspected by fire officers in a second batch of checks.

Pre-1973 commercial premises are not required by law to have sprinklers.

Buildings which are part residential and part offices are not eligible.

But members of a bills committee were doubtful the arrangement was feasible amid the economic downturn.

'Owners are not reluctant to install fire equipment, as long as they are capable financially. I don't think this loan is sufficient,' said Henry Wu King-cheong yesterday.

The fund provides loans which owners must repay partially within one month.

Principal assistant secretary for security Sarah Kwok Tam Pui-yi said the amount was decided after a series of checks to gauge demand. 'Some buildings might not need to borrow,' she said.

'The first phase of inspection will take place over the course of three years. By asking owners to repay in a month, we'll be able to recycle the fund,' she said.