It is a scary time in Hong Kong, covid19 has closed schools, so all the kids at home studying on Zoom, and an increasing number of people are also working at home to maintain social distancing. But the majority are living in high rise buildings, most without any sprinklers, many older buildings are just high rise death traps.
Government’s across the planet have amazing hindsight, AFTER a major disaster has occurred, after lives have been lost, then months of wrangling ensure to update the building codes or governing regulations, that price is too high in my view.
Well, it seems I have to wait, I have to wait for the news media to report a disastrous number of unnecessary deaths before Governmental hindsight kicks into action.
In the United Kingdom, you might have heard about the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, more than 70 people tragically died, and they had better fire doors than the door in photo recorded in April 2020.
How does this happen is a developed economy, it is a result of Hong Kong’s laissez-faire mantra, passing every possible responsibility to anyone except government, individuals, or private companies, with little, if any oversight.
For building fire safety that means the owner (or hired corporation) is wholly responsible for compliance with the regulations covering fire safety, since nobody checks residential buildings, there is no incentive to comply.
Passive fire safety measures (materials and fire escape routes) are governed by the HKSAR Development Bureau, and its subordinate Building Department (BD), essentially they cover the construction code and regulations, and they conduct site checks before allowing a new building to open.
Active fire safety measures (fire alarms, hose reels, sprinklers, etc) are governed by the HKSAR Security Bureau, and its subordinate Fire Services Department (FSD), essentially they cover code and regulations for the active systems, they conduct site checks before opening a new building, reporting the result to BD.
Why Residential Sprinklers
Fire sprinklers buy time, precious time. In the absence of any immediate occupants to raise the fire alarm, modern sprinklers when activated by fire automatically sound the fire alarm, but more importantly, they immediately put water on the fire.
That immediate water slows the progress allowing time for people to escape, it helps control the smoke and while the water is full, keeps putting water on the fire while the fire bridge are travelling to the site. Often a fire sprinkler system can prevent a fire from becoming a disaster while waiting for the firefighters to tackle the blaze.