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Shanghai’s regulation on fire safety management in residential buildings

Sep 14, 2017

The Shanghai Municipal Government’s Information Office held a press conference on August 15 on the newly enacted Shanghai regulation on fire safety management in residential buildings. The following are the highlights:

Wu Xielin, director, Shanghai Legislative Affairs Office

Yu Lie, deputy director, Shanghai Public Security Bureau

Gu Jinlong, deputy director, Shanghai Fire Control Bureau

STV: Director Wu, I’d like to ask you about the fire safety regulation you just mentioned, which stipulates the responsibilities of each party. But what role does the property management companies play in this regulation? What about communities that don’t have such a service provider, who’s responsible for fire safety there?

And I have a question for Deputy Director Yu Lie, too. You just mentioned that many residents charge their electronic scooters in communal corridors, which is a fire safety violation. The range of fines for this will be between 10,000 yuan (US$1,540) and 30,000 yuan, or between 30,000 yuan and 100,000 yuan, right?

Wu Xielin: The Shanghai regulation on fire safety management in residential buildings stipulates clearly the division of responsibilities, especially the responsibilities of property management companies. Article 13 of the regulation stipulates that property management companies should take responsibility in nine aspects, including implementing and registering fire safety procedures; carrying out regular fire inspections, eliminating fire hazards, securing clear exits and passages for firefighting trucks; and having regular fire drills. If the service contract expires, the fire safety registration should be handed over to the property owners’ committee.

The regulation states that for self-managed residential communities that don’t have property management companies, the owners and residential committees are responsible for their own fire safety through self-elected management agencies.

The local public security organizations and local police stations will guide and supervise property management companies and self-elected agencies in ensuring fire safety according to the regulation.

Yu Lie: Thanks for your question. Regarding residents charging their electronic scooters in communal corridors, and other acts of occupying public spaces that might cause fire hazards, the Public Security Bureau, the residents’ committee, and the property management company should collaborate to stop and discourage residents from doing so, and violators should be punished according to the regulation.

We encourage residents to call our fire safety hotline 96116 to report such violations. Together we can create a better and safer environment.

Xinmin Evening News: My question is for Deputy Director Gu. What does the new regulation say about old communities that have poor firefighting equipment and have a low budget for maintenance?

Gu Jinlong: The new regulation states that district governments and township governments should provide money and equipment for old residential buildings, and install fire sprinklers in such buildings.

Since 2011, the Shanghai Municipal Government has installed and renovated firefighting equipment in 400 old residential communities and more than 1,200 15-year-old or above buildings, and provided fire pumps and other equipment for firefighting stations in more than 1,000 communities.

The Public Security Bureau, the Shanghai Fire Control Bureau, as well as departments of urban management & comprehensive law enforcement and housing management, have formed a joint enforcement mechanism in recent years to better implement the new fire safety regulation.

The Paper: Does this legislation involve fire control issues caused by group renting?

Yu Lie: Group renting is actually a kind of illegal act, which has been placed under effective control after several years of clean-up campaign in Shanghai. The campaign mainly targets fire risks, but security and environmental problems are also considered. The Shanghai government has launched housing management rules to regulate group renting activities.

The new rules specifically target problems existing in home renting. Group renting has many risks pertaining to fire control; for example, random connection of electric wires and improper use of home appliances and gas-fuelled cooking facilities. New methods to tackle these problems have been mentioned in article 34.

It specifies legal obligations of the leaser and the tenant. Leasers should ensure that the house for rent fits with standards for fire control, instruct the tenant to use home appliances and gas appliances properly and carry out safety checks and maintenance regularly.

Tenants are supposed to follow relevant fire control rules, use home appliances and gas appliances properly and cooperate with leasers during checks and maintenance.

Their legal obligations might differ, but they both need to erase fire risks as soon as they appear or inform the other party to ward off the risks at once.

China National Radio: We understand that China has the most number of super high-rise buildings in the world. We would like to know the current fire control status in Shanghai’s high-rises, especially those that have been around for a long time. What are the problems and how are you going to deal with them?

Gu Jinlong: A preliminary survey showed that there are more than 31,000 high-rise buildings in Shanghai, among which 600-plus are super high-rises. It is essential but difficult to carry out fire control for these buildings in China and around the world. You were talking about old towers. We have indeed done quite some work on them apart from upgrades. The high-rise buildings completed before relevant national standards were introduced could not obviously meet requirements for plane layout, fire control facilities and evacuation. We have taken the following steps to ensure safety:

First we have conducted a general survey and examination. Second, we have increased fire control facilities. And third we have put up more safety signs. We have also stepped up to inform people to raise awareness about fire control. Through WeChat groups in the neighborhood, we hope people in high-rise buildings will have a better ability to escape fire. We have also put individuals in charge of sole departments which inform residents in time and issue alerts as soon as possible in case of fire.

Following the State Council’s demand to carry out comprehensive work for fire control in high-rise buildings, volunteer firefighter teams or “mini-fire stations” have been set up within the buildings. So far there are 450 such teams in Shanghai with about 6,000 professional and part-time team members. We will set up stronger fire defense through the facilities and other aspects.

As for fire rescue, the police have always marked it out as a key task. Shanghai is setting up the first professional high-rise firefighting team in China, has conducted 8,300 field researches in high-rise buildings and designed more than 12,000 copies of fire control plans and information files. Meanwhile, we have distributed compressed air foam fire trucks, high-rise water supply trucks, drones, lifts and other facilities accordingly. As we are building the team, we will also apply smart technologies and equipment to support human work, so as to act efficiently in case of a high-rise building fire. Thank you.

ShanghaiEye: Almost one third of the fires are caused by home appliance failure. There are aging home appliances in old houses in Shanghai. Are there any specific measures for this and is this specifically written in the new rules?

Gu Jinlong: Indeed the percentage is high. The national number would be higher, at close to 40 percent. We have done plenty of work to prevent this kind of fire. First, the districts have been performing an upgrade of old electric wires. Hongkou District, for example, invested 10 million yuan to transform the aged wires ten years ago. Second, as the technology develops, new techniques have been applied to secure electric safety, including alert in advance and positive cut-off. Some districts, Yangpu, Huangpu, Baoshan and Hongkou for example, have adopted the new techniques. Third, the housing fire control management methods have regulations for electric car and bicycle charging, as in recent years, there have been a rising number of accidents during charging. The property management service providers should ensure safety checks and patrol in case of fires during the charging process.

This year, the State Administration of Work Safety is conducting a comprehensive treatment work on electrical fire. Here I would like to take the chance to remind residents to be more careful while using electricity. Thank you.

Yu Lie: Deputy Director Gu has answered the question and I would like to add something. There are indeed many high-rises in Shanghai. We have been drafting several standards lately, including fire prevention standards for public high-rise buildings and for residential towers. Drafting of fire control standards for old communities, as you have mentioned, is also under way.