The Self Storage Association Asia (SSAA) has found what it believes to be a “win-win solution” for a Hong Kong self-storage industry that must meet fire safety standards: enclosing storage clusters with fireproof boards will not only meet newly proposed safety requirements, but also save the industry millions of dollars.
Hong Kong’s Fire Service Department (FSD) has gone head to head with the SSAA in the wake of a blaze last June at a self storage facility that killed two firefighters and took over four days to extinguish. The FSD insists the storage industry—comprising some 885 facilities—has experienced explosive, unregulated growth in the past two decades.
“Just short of half of 885 inspected facilities (423 out of 885 facilities) failed to meet fire safety standards,“ said the South China Morning Post, citing numbers provided by the FSD. “Some 116 out of 2,410 issued fire hazard abatement notices have been complied with since February.”
The SSAA, which represents about two-thirds of the industry, has argued that the newly proposed regulations, which would have required many to “dismantle structures and rebuild them to comply with fire safety standards” would be too costly.
These proposed regulations include building firewalls around partitions and creating wider corridors, among other things. This, the SSAA argues, translates into millions of dollars in retrofitting, and has thus far caused at least 40 operators in the area to shut down.
The FSD has said it welcomes alternative solutions that meet the required standards. To this end, the SSAA recently hired a fire engineer from consulting firm Arup and a team of surveyors to find such alternatives.
The SSAA has announced at least two alternative solutions to work around what operators have defined as the two most difficult requirements to meet: a 2.4-metre separation distance between storage islands and a maximum 50-square-meter storage area.
With fireproof boards enclosing storage clusters, operators can meet these requirements for a fraction of the originally proposed cost. Such alterations would prevent fire from spreading for at least 30 minutes—an essential condition specified by the Fire Services Department.
The proposal will be submitted to the FSD this week.