Recent fire disasters in Hong Kong and other cities in China show that fire safety should receive more attention. In Hong Kong, a large number of pre‐1980 high‐rise buildings were designed according to old prescriptive building and fire codes. The fire protection measures of these buildings may not be the same as the standard in effect today, even if all fire safety items have been well maintained. Assessment of the fire safety level of these old buildings – on the basis of current prescriptive requirements – may return a conclusion that many buildings’ fire safety systems are “sub‐standard”, and the fire safety level is unacceptably low. However, whether such a conclusion is warranted, thereby triggering immediate improvement action, is debatable, because the rigid prescriptive requirements in the fire codes do not provide a holistic picture of the fire safety level in these buildings. This paper discusses the issues of site inspections for a systematic approach to perform the fire safety ranking for multi‐storey buildings.
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