HONGKONG Bank has no immediate plans to employ a full-time health and safety officer despite a recommendation in a report on the Shekkipmei arson attack which killed 12 of its staff. The call came from world-renowned safety specialist, Gregory Southeard, whose company, Dr J. H. Burgoyne and Partners, was appointed by the bank to report on the January fire. Mr Southeard said: ''I am especially mindful of the conflict between fire safety and security and, while I am also mindful of costs, it is my opinion that Hongkong Bank requires a dedicated health and safety officer.'' The officer would formulate policy and liaise between departments. One company chief said: ''I find it astounding that a company as big as Hongkong Bank, with 13,000 Hong Kong employees, does not have a health and safety officer.'' Labour officials said only construction companies were required to have full-time health and safety officers. Hongkong Bank executive director in charge of Hong Kong and China, Paul Selway-Swift, confirmed the bank had rejected the recommendation. ''We have taken the most important step, that is to employ a fire safety manager. We are continuing to consider whether we should employ a health and safety officer,'' he said. ''We probably will.'' Mr Selway-Swift yesterday announced that $130 million would be spent over the next three years beefing up fire protection at all 232 branches. The bank has appointed Choi King-sang, a former senior divisional officer in the Fire Services Department, as manager of fire safety. Mr Choi will review procedures and set up a staff training programme. The Burgoyne report also considered what happened during the arson attack, but the details have been suppressed in Hong Kong until the criminal case against electrical engineer Chu Po-kwong, who faces 12 counts of murder, is settled. Mr Selway-Swift said the recommendations closely followed those of the Government's inter-departmental review. ''Each of our branches either meets or exceeds the minimum standards set by the fire regulations. Some 56 per cent [of branches] have sprinklers and 47 per cent have a rear fire exit,'' he said. Among the most important new measures are installation of sprinklers and rear fire exits. ''There are a small number of branches where we cannot fit rear fire exits. Branches that are not able to be modified will be closed and relocated as leases expire,'' he said. The bank also plans to install hose reels and upgrade glass counter screens, modifying air conditioning systems at the same time to prevent smoke being recirculated throughout the branch. Mr Selway-Swift said the work would take about three years to complete. ''We would like to do it sooner, but that is how long our building surveyors and contractors tell us it will take,'' he said. Smaller scale improvements will be introduced over the next 12 months and include: Appointing and training fire marshals in each branch. Reducing the amount of combustible material in each branch and using fire retarding materials. Expanding training to include fire safety with regular drills and evacuations.