Self-storage industry in dialogue with fire safety agencies over alternative solutions

Industry representative expresses optimism in search of space-efficient solutions to meet fire safety requirements.

Photo: Luigi La Tona of the Self Storage Association Asia.

The self-storage industry is appealing to government authorities in seek of alternative fire safety measures that are deemed acceptable by operators.

The Self Storage Association Asia (SSAA), representing almost two-third of the mini-storage industry in terms of gross floor area, stated yesterday (17 January) that it was still in communication with the Buildings Department and the Fire Services Department (FSD) following government inspections and enforcement actions in the city’s more than 500 mini-storage sites.

“We are proactively working with the government in order to find safe and sustainable solutions,” SSAA executive director Luigi La Tona said, noting that the industry has been working to comply with the authorities’ requirements on signage, lighting, improved fire exits and elimination of dead ends.

An earlier requirement made by the FSD on a 2.4-metre gap between storage zones was met however by strong reactions by the industry. In another meeting on 30 December, the FSD put forward an alternative solution, with storage islands of 50 square metres each in a sealed, fire-proof “shoebox” style to prevent rapid spread of fire similar to a four-alarm blaze last June which left two firefighters dead.

La Tona stressed that the industry “could absolutely not meet” the 2.4-metre rule under general warehouse regulations in particular as such a standard would “drastically” and “negatively” impact the industry which survives on floor space. He noted that up to 50 facilities, or one-tenth of the market had closed or would close in face of the strict demands.

In response, the SSAA has hired a fire engineer from consulting firm Arup to look into possible alternatives with an ultimate goal of stopping the spread of a fire for at least 30 minutes as per required. Two proposals will be submitted to the Buildings Department and the FSD respectively.

“The FSD … has been very clear that they will accept alternative solutions and the industry wants to stay in communication and in collaboration with the FSD,” La Tona claimed.


Alex Fok is a Harbour Times journalist monitoring Hong Kong's daily political scene and diplomatic updates. He obtained his bachelor's degree in Economics, Politics and International Studies from University of Warwick and his master's degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a former committee member of the Warwick-based Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Service Society (WHKPASS) and was the chief editor of the society's magazine - PASSTIMES.


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