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January 31 press conference about new regulations on the installation and maintenance of curtain walls and firefighting equipment

The Shanghai Municipal Government Information Office held a press conference about the Regulations on the Installation of Curtain Walls and Firefighting Equipment on January 31. Following are the highlights:

Gu Changhao: deputy director of the Legislative Office of Shanghai Municipal People’s Government

Shen Xiaosu: deputy director of Shanghai Municipal Urban and Rural Construction and Transportation Commission

Sun Jian: deputy director of Shanghai Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau

Huang Yongping: deputy director of Shanghai Municipal Housing Security and Administration Bureau

Shen Weimin: deputy director of Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision

Liu Jian: senior executive of the Legislative Office of Shanghai Municipal People’s Government

Gu Jinlong: chief engineer of Shanghai Municipal Fire Department

Shanghai People’s Radio:I have three questions. The first is for Mr Gu. It has been stipulated that the property owner is held responsible for the maintenance of curtain walls after several cases of falling glasses from self-bursting curtain walls. The new rules make it clear that if the owner refuses to perform his duty, authorities can entrust a third party to assess the risks of the curtain walls and do proper maintenance. But what kind of punishment will be imposed on the property owner?

The second question is for Mr Shen. You said that it is important to train professional repair teams because curtain wall repair requires professional skills. Could you please elaborate on the training plan?

And the third question is for Mr Sun. The new rules have a provision on controlling light pollution from glass curtain walls. Can you tell us what measures your bureau will take to address the problem?

Gu Changhao: The Clause 28-30 in the regulations have spelled out punishments for property owners if they fail to perform their duties when a falling glass incident occurs. In addition, they must also abide by other related laws and regulations.

There are mainly two measures to deal with falling-glass incidents. First, the owner should conduct safety evaluation of his glass curtain walls and do repair or maintenance according to the evaluation. Second, if the owner refuses to perform his duty, the official administrator can take coercive measures to get it done. If an accident caused any casualty, the owner must compensate the victim according to the law. The victim can also seek compensation through the court.

Shen Xiaosu:The regulations have stipulations on the design, materials, construction and maintenance of glass curtain walls. A special fund should be set aside for the maintenance of glass curtain walls.

The regulations also require the designer and constructor of glass curtain walls to provide a detailed maintenance manual. Clause 11 says that the city encourages that the design, construction and maintenance of a curtain wall are done by the same certified company because they know their product best.

Sun Jian:The regulations mainly cover two aspects: curtain wall safety and light pollution. The Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau will join efforts with the urban planning and construction departments to address problems in three ways.

First, we will strengthen supervision of building designers and make sure that no reflective glass curtain walls are used in buildings that directly face the main section of a T-shaped intersection and other areas where such walls are strictly forbidden.

Second, we will strive to reduce the glare from reflective glass curtain walls. Building developers are required to commission professionals to conduct light pollution assessment during the stage of architectural design and submit the assessment report to the environmental protection authority, for further review by experts.

Third, we will establish a long-term management system to ensure the use of glass curtain walls meet the needs of urban planning, nearby residents, schools and local development.

Xinmin Evening News:The public are very concerned about the safety of glass curtain walls after several falling-glass accidents occurred last summer. Are there any provisions in the new regulations that can guarantee new glass curtain walls will be safer? What is the role of the property management company in the maintenance of glass curtain walls?

Shen Xiaosu:We are now amending technical specifications of materials used in glass curtain walls and they will be enforced in the first half of 2012. The amendments will set stricter demand on the construction of curtain walls, such as the size, sunlight reflection rate, materials and safety standards.

Huang Yongping:The new regulations have made it clear that it is the property owner who is responsible for the safety of glass curtain walls. Under the new regulations, the property owner can perform routine maintenance by himself or entrust it to a property management company. The management company is required to report any potential risks to the owner in time or report them to the official administrator if the owner fails to act immediately.

Shanghai Evening Post:I have a question for Mr Shen Xiaosu. You said earlier that you have conducted a survey of buildings with glass curtain walls. How many of them have potential hazards and must have them fixed this year? I’ve another question for Mr Huang. Since some residential buildings also have glass curtain walls, do you know their proportion of all the buildings with glass walls? Some residential buildings have many owners, how are they going to contribute to the special fund for routine maintenance?

Shen Xiaosu:The survey shows that of all the buildings with glass walls in Shanghai, 35 have serious safety problems and 440 have potential hazards. All these buildings are now taking measures to address their problems and we will begin another examination by the end of March.

Huang Yongping:We don’t have a percentage of residential buildings with glass walls but it must be quite low. As for their maintenance fund, all residential buildings already have their own maintenance funds as required by the regulations on residential building management. However, their funds are not for the maintenance of glass curtain walls specifically. The new regulations have set a principle but it is up to the construction administration to work out detailed methods.

Eastday:Two questions for Mr Shen Weimin. First, how do you prevent cases in which some public facilities fail to have equipment supervisors for various reasons? Second, why do the regulations set provisions on hazard reporting?

Shen Weimin:Under the new regulations, public facilities with a certain amount of mechanical equipment must have professional supervisors to ensure the safety of their equipment. The rules also apply to facilities that are built with private or foreign capital and concern public interests and safety.

The regulations require the establishment of an information platform for equipment supervision which is linked with the government platform for fixed assets investment and construction management. This allows us to determine what projects need equipment supervisors. We will inform the project developers or constructors through the platform in the early stage of their construction. We will also track the records of those who failed to submit their equipment supervision reports in time.

The second question is about the risk reporting system. The new rules have spelled out that all equipment supervisors have the obligation to report potential hazards found at the site. Because the developer or constructor is held primarily responsible for workplace safety while the equipment supervisor is a service provider, the regulations set detailed provisions on the obligations of each party to report any potential risks.

An equipment supervisor must first inform the constructor of the need to fix a safety problem in a written report and notify the project developer as well. If the constructor and project developer don’t take measures to solve the problem, the equipment supervisor shall report to the district authority for quality and technical inspection. We made these provisions after drawing a lesson from the deadly high-rise fire that happened on November 15, 2010.

Shanghai Media Group:The handout says fire alarms will be installed in old-age nursing homes, orphanages and kindergartens. Where does the money come from? How many of them have not been installed with the alarms?

Liu Jian:After consulting with various departments, we have decided that the additional fire-prevention devices will be paid by the establishments themselves with certain subsidies from the government. Fire prevention is considered a top priority on this year’s government agenda. We estimate that over 100 million yuan will be provided by the municipal and district governments to cover the cost.

Gu Jinlong:The first fire alarm was invented in the 1960s and it has since being widely adopted in developed countries such as the United States and Japan. Statistics show that the use of fire alarms in homes and other areas has significantly reduced fire disasters and casualties. This type of fire alarm can react to abnormal smoke and temperature and emit light and sound signals. It is easy to install, runs on its own batteries and is very affordable. Since nursing homes, orphanages, kindergartens and boarding schools are more prone to fire accidents, installing fire alarms in these places is practical and effective to prevent fires and casualties. Shanghai has about 3,300 such establishments and most of them do not have fire alarms. We will urge them to install the alarms according to the regulations. Those who don’t follow the rules will be penalized. I think they will install the alarms through our education and inspection.

Shanghai Evening Post:To prevent fire disasters, the city must impose tougher punishment to violators of safety regulations. What are the punishments and how effective are they to deter potential violators?

Liu Jian:This is a question the public is concerned about. The Shanghai Regulation on Fire Equipment Management already has stipulations on the installation, management and maintenance of fire-fighting equipment. Article 21 in the regulation stipulates legal liabilities and penalties for violations.

First, those who have not installed a water spray system and automatic fire alarms will be ordered to do so within a deadline or they will be fined between 2,000 yuan and 20,000 yuan.

Second, those who have not submitted a contract signed by tenants to share the fire-fighting equipment or a report about the staffing of their fire control rooms to their local fire departments will be ordered to make corrections with a deadline or they will be fined between 1,000 yuan and 3,000 yuan.

Third, those who have not employed certified workers for the fire control room as required by the rules will be fined between 2,000 yuan and 20,000 yuan.

Fourth, those who fail to do proper maintenance and examination of their firefighting equipment and caused the equipment unusable will be fined between 5,000 yuan and 50,000 yuan.

Last, firefighting equipment maintenance services that failed to send their check reports to the fire department as required by the law or failed to report fire hazards found in their check will be fined between 2,000 yuan and 10,000 yuan.

All the violations mentioned above will be punished with fines and given a deadline to correct before criminal punishment is considered according to the law.

While making amendments to the Shanghai Regulations on Fire Equipment Management, the fire department also took that as an opportunity to improve its capabilities. Article 24 talks about administrative responsibilities for a fire and spells out penalties for three kinds of violation, for example, if a fire department employee fails to perform his duty, he will receive administrative punishment.