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Due to historic background of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, the types of historic buildings are varied including traditional Chinese ancestral halls, Western styled residences and functional buildings (e.g. Police Stations). To-dateâ€™s prescriptive codes for fire safety provisions would inevitably present challenges to alterations or renovations of historical buildings, where impact to historic fabric, appearance and aesthetics should be minimized and at the same time fire safety level with respect to life must not be compromised. The use of alternative approach or performance-based approach to fire safety design as allowed under the local codes is then the only means to address both fire safety concerns and preservations of historical elements. Fire safety management is an importance aspect to mitigate the potential fire risks. This paper outline the characteristics of historic buildings in Hong Kong and gives an overview on the approach to deal with fire safety design in historical buildings including design objectives, legislative environment, administrative aspects and technical aspects. Typical building elements in historical buildings in Hong Kong that rise fire safety problems are listed. The problems and difficulties encountered in fire safety design are discussed. The application of fire safety engineering to a real historic building project is also described.