Fire officers mooted for buildings
Owners of all private buildings may have to appoint an officer responsible for fire safety, it emerged yesterday.
According to a proposal being considered by the Government, the officer would have to be a full-time employee of the building management body.
Deputy director of the Home Affairs Department Liu Hau-tun said the proposal arose from the failure of management bodies to comply with safety standards and difficulties faced by the Government in enforcing regulations.
'The appointed officer will be responsible for all fire safety matters such as persuading people not to block fire escapes or wedge open fire doors. It will take up quite a lot of time,' he said.
He added the Government was set to require all private buildings to set up a management body.
'The Government is very keen to make the proposal mandatory. Legislative procedures will be decided very soon,' he said.
But ousted legislator James To Kun-sun said the appointment of officers was impractical.
'The problem is not in well-managed buildings but in those old blocks that can't form a management body on their own.
'Most of the owners in these buildings are unwilling to pay for repairs. How can you expect them to pay each month for the officer's salary? 'In fact, the officer's duties can by carried out by the watchmen but no one will be willing to take up the post if it has such a large legal responsibility,' he said.
He attacked the Government for looking for scapegoats following the spate of fire tragedies.
Mr Liu said: 'We are not trying to pinpoint one person who will take the blame for a tragedy.' He said details of the proposal were still being studied and no decision had yet been reached.