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Founding director of Dragon Fire and Safety: David Scott

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David Scott reveals that smoke detectors save lives across the world – but not so much in Hong Kong.

In November last year, Hong Kong Fire Services Department (HKFSD) adopted a faceless, blue-suited, new mascot called ‘Anyone’ to introduce the public to basic fire-safety skills, including cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of a fire extinguisher. The idea being that ‘anyone’ can save a life and ‘anyone’ can use a fire extinguisher.

Showing the people of Hong Kong how to save someone else’s life is laudable – and the HKFSD’s online Anyone campaign in fact went viral – but HongKongers also need to know how to save their own lives. What’s needed is an HKFSD campaign informing people how important it is that they have at least one smoke detector in their home.

Despite Hong Kong being one of the most densely populated cities in the world, there is still no legal requirement to have smoke detection in the majority of homes. You may be surprised to hear that it’s not a requirement in new-build housing, in private housing, in social housing, in rented housing, in renovated housing or in subdivided flats.

The only exception is in new-build apartments with kitchens that open directly into the living room. In such homes, the developer must provide a smoke detector connected to the building’s main fire-alarm system and a single sprinkler head.

This lack of legislation in Hong Kong seems strange when compared to requirements across the world, especially when you consider that residential smoke detector ownership is over 90% in some countries.

Around the world, fire-safety professionals recommend having at least one working smoke detector in your home. This simple and straightforward fire-safety message is vital to saving lives and it is at the forefront of almost every national and regional fire service in the world.

Fire-safety professionals worldwide recommend the installation of smoke alarms in people’s homes due to the historical correlation between increased levels of smoke-detector ownership and the corresponding reduction in deaths resulting from fires in the home.

A smoke detector in the home increases your chance of survival since it notifies you of a possible fire risk. Of course, this is particularly important at night when occupants are asleep.

There is no disputing the professionalism and bravery of the HKFSD firefighters who have some of the fastest response times to 999 calls in the world. But in a day and age where even homes made with tin roofs in shanty towns in South Africa have smoke detectors installed, perhaps it’s time to educate the people of Hong Kong on how to save their own lives.

Find it

• Dragon Fire and Safety, 5286 1812, [email protected], dragonfireandsafety.com

Dragon Fire and Safety carries out fire-safety training, fire-safety management and fire-risk assessment services for corporate clients throughout Hong Kong. The company also retails its own smoke detector for the home under the trademarked Dragon FireEye brand at www.dragonfireeye.com


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