(I)The Drug Dependent Persons Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres (Licensing) Ordinance [“the Ordinance”] : 1.The Ordinance comes into operation on 1st April 2002. Under the Ordinance, all treatment centres [“Centres”] are subject to a licensing regime to ensure, amongst others, the safety and well-being of the inmates and occupant of the Centres.
2.Buildings Department [“BD”] offers advice on applications for registration to Social Welfare Department in regard to the suitability of the premises in the following areas: (i)Structural safety; (ii)Fire resisting construction; (iii)Means of escape and access for fire fighting and rescue; (iv)Lighting and ventilation; (v)Provision of sanitary fitments; and (vi)Unauthorized building works affecting public safety. (I)The Drug Dependent Persons Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres (Licensing) Ordinance [“the Ordinance”] :
(II) Locking device to room with normal occupancy : 1.The locking device installed to an exit door of a room having normal occupancy shall be of the type which is capable of being readily opened from the inside without the use of a key. An electrically operated locking device is acceptable provided that such lock is capable of being readily opened from the inside, and upon power failure, the electrical locking device shall also be released automatically.
2.Store room, plant room, etc. are regarded as not carrying normal occupancy. However, in case there is clear indication from the Operator that a store room / plant room is used for restraining person(s) therein, locking device installed at the door of such store room / plant room shall comply with the aforesaid requirements. (II) Locking device to room with normal occupancy :
(III) Village-type-houses [“VTH”] or New Territories exempted houses [“NTEH”] : Premises located in a VTH or NTEH are not constructed to the current standards and carry inherent deficiencies in terms of means of escape provision and storey headroom. There are practical difficulties in up-grading VTH or NTEH to achieve full compliance with the current standards / codes of practice.
(IV) Exit staircase in VTH /NTEH : BD has reviewed the situation. BD is prepared to adopt a pragmatic and practical approach on the means of escape requirements for those Centres that have been in operation prior to the coming into effect of the Ordinance and subject to Certificate of Exemption [“CoE”] and are located in VTH / NTEH, provided that: (i) The existing staircase is having a minimum clear headroom of not less than 2000mm;
(ii)The existing staircase is without any winder; (iii)The existing staircase is properly enclosed by fire resisting construction / materials, and its elements of construction are non-combustible; and (iv) The existing staircase is leading direct to a street or open area at ground floor level; (IV) Exit staircase in VTH /NTEH :
BD will accept the existing staircases in these Centres as if they comply with the following requirements: (i)The existing staircase should have a minimum clear width of not less than 900mm; (ii)Reasonable allowance would be given to maximum height of 175mm for risers and the minimum width of 225mm for treads of the staircase; (IV) Exit staircase in VTH /NTEH :
(iii)Doorway communicating with the staircase at its final discharge point at ground floor level would be allowed subject to: a.The whole building is owned / rented by the Centre; b.The ground floor doorway of the staircase is not leading to a kitchen or places of high fire risk (such as LPG chambers, pantry with cooking activities); c.The ground floor doorway is protected by door which is capable of self-closing and having an fire resisting period of not less than half an hour; and d.The means of escape provision of the whole building is adequate (i.e. the staircase width is adequate, and access to the roof is unobstructed). (IV) Exit staircase in VTH /NTEH :
(V) Storey headroom requirement for VTH / NTEH : BD is also prepared to adopt a pragmatic and relaxed approach on the lighting and ventilation requirements listed below towards those Centres that have been in operation prior to the coming into effect of the Ordinance and subject to CoE and are located in VTH / NTEH:
“Subject to the provision of adequate artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation to the satisfaction of the Building Authority, existing Centres located in VTH or NTEH with storey headroom less than 2500mm (from floor to underside of ceiling) or 2300mm (from floor to underside of beam) would be favorably considered as acceptable in the context of paragraph 5.6.1 of the Code of Practice for Drug Dependent Persons Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres issued by the Director of Social Welfare.” (V) Storey headroom requirement for VTH / NTEH :
( VI) Unauthorized Building Works [“UBW”] : 1.Premises / structures of the Centres come within ‘building / building works’ as defined in the Buildings Ordinance [“BO”] (Cap. 123), and they require approval and consent from the Building Authority prior to the commencement of their construction.
(VI) Unauthorized Building Works [“UBW”] : 2.Premises / structures of the Centres which were constructed without having obtained prior approval and consent necessary under the BO (Cap. 123) are objectionable UBW and are unsuitable for licensing, unless these premises / structures are exempted under the previous or current editions of the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance and Regulations which are administered by the Director of Lands. 3.Prior to the issue of a licence, all objectionable UBW affecting the Centre shall be removed.
(VII)Expert Opinion : 1.For premises / structures of the Centres not complying with the building and accommodation requirements laid down in the Code of Practice for Drug Dependent Persons Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres [the “Code of Practice”], the Licensing Authority may require the submission of an Expert Opinion by an Authorized Person [“AP”] and / or Registered Structural Engineer [“RSE”] within two years after the issue of the first Certificate of Exemption [the “CoE”].
2.In the Expert Opinion, the AP and / or RSE should give his view on whether the premises /structures of the Centres would pose undue hazards from fire safety and structural stability. 3.The Operator and his AP / RSE are reminded to read through the ‘Guidance Notes on Submission of Expert Opinion’ enclosed with the CoE, where appropriate, issued to the Centres. (VII)Expert Opinion :
(VIII)Pre-submission Enquiry : 1.For any re-development proposal, settling the design principles involved at an early stage will help the re- development to proceed with confidence and avoid any abortive work later on. 2.To facilitate early clearance of basic design principles, BD will upon a written enquiry from the Operator’s AP provide a determination on the matters involved.
3.BD will solicit comments on the written enquiry from related departments such as Fire Services Department and Lands Department which will also be conveyed to the Operator’s AP. 4.It is recommended that the Operator’s AP should make use of this facility as early as possible on issues and principles involved. 4.Guidelines to ‘Pre-submission Enquiry’ can be found in Practice Note for Authorized Persons and Registered Structural Engineers No. 272 [“PNAP 272”] issued by BD. (VIII)Pre-submission Enquiry :