The end of last year and beginning of this year tested the resilience of the Australian people and particularly that of our firefighters, who worked around the clock for many months to protect and save numerous communities and lives. Unfortunately, the resilience and strength shown by our firefighters and communities has been pushed even further as we deal with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
While Australia is currently focused on beating the virus, the summer bushfires and communities affected are not forgotten. Standards Australia is committed to continued support and innovation to help the sector and the Australian people rebuild, prepare and mitigate the impact of future bushfires and environmental disasters.
Bushfire Royal Commission must take big steps
The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements is an important step in helping Australia understand the full impact of the black summer bushfires and what steps we can take to help make sure we are better prepared for future events.
The end of April saw Standards Australia put in a submission to the Royal Commission. In the submission and despite the added pressure and challenges being presented by COVID-19, Standards Australia called on industry, government and the community to come together to build a more resilient Australia for the future.
Standards Australia outlined the need for a larger focus on both existing and new infrastructure. The submission called for increased support for homeowners and building managers with existing buildings that may have used older methods and/or previous iterations of regulations that may no longer be adequate.
The comprehensive submission recommended the following:
- The development of Australian Standards for the management of climatic risk, including bushfires, continues to be supported by Australian governments.
- Consideration be given to how existing settlements and building stock is adapted to deal with the risks that come from a changing climate.
- Any effort to improve national coordination of preparedness and resilience in communities be reflective of the Standards Australia model of consensus, proven to have worked for nearly 100 years.
All three recommendations have the aim of ensuring that the infrastructure and built environment of communities across the country match the resilience shown by the Australian people in the summer of 2020.
The recovery process is a long one and the effects of black summer continue to make themselves known even months down the line. During the crisis and in the aftermath, Australian communities pulled together to support and help with the rebuild effort. The Royal Commission is another important step in assisting these devastated communities and we look forward to its findings and recommendations.
Ready to download: Construction in bushfire prone areas
The bushfire season impacted nearly every community and individual across Australia. It saw volunteers, charities, government, businesses and organizations band together to assist during and after the crisis.
Earlier this year we announced a partnership with the Commonwealth Government to make AS 3959:2018, Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas accessible at no cost to the public to assist in the rebuild.
AS 3959:2018 is now available and can be downloaded through our distributors SAI Global and Techstreet. Standards Australia is proud to be able to offer this standard to assist the communities of Australia.
We encourage those rebuilding to download the document which will be available at no cost until June 2021. Please note to access the standard at no cost you must select the PDF option.
Protecting our firefighters
Firefighters across the country are protecting properties, land and people day in and day out. An essential part of doing this job safely and effectively is their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
PPE standards are an important tool in helping protect firefighters and set out requirements that build confidence and promote best practice in the design, manufacturing and maintenance of protective equipment. Most recently, the committee SF-042, Firefighters Personal Protective Equipment, published AS 4067:2012 Amd 2:2020 Protective helmets for structural firefighting.
The amendment focused mainly on clarifications for testing requirements related to the modification of helmets. The protection of firefighters and the structural integrity of helmets is at the core of this standard, and the committee is committed to continual reviews and work on the document.
Alongside this update, the continuing work program of the committee includes the review and updates of respiratory protection standards and the development of standards for cleaning and maintaining PPE.
Australia continues to be a key player in the development of personal protective standards and is a leader in the international space. Standards Australia is committed to the promotion and facilitation of the development of guidance for PPE with the aim of enhancing the safety of our first responders, and their international colleagues.
The year of continued resilience
This year has already tested individuals, industries and government in many ways, but the resilience and strength shown has left a strong sense of community deeply embedded in the Australian people. As we begin to see an end to the COVID-19 restrictions and move forward into what we hope is a more positive half of the year, the lessons and strength built over the last few months will no doubt be carried over.
At Standards Australia we will continue our integral work with and for the fire-services sector and look forward to helping support and build a stronger built environment for all Australians.
COVID-19 and standards
At Standards Australia we have been working closely with our community to help businesses and organizations through this difficult time. We have been inspired by the many manufacturers and individuals changing their core business or working to help provide for those on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis.
To support the manufactures getting masks and other PPE to those who need it most, Standards Australia released two sets of guidance. The first is a summary list of relevant standards which we have been collated into an easy-to-read directory and the second is a more detailed map of possible ways to get PPE from warehouses to the frontline using Australian facilities. We hope this guidance helps manufacturers and individuals across Australian industry.
For more information, go to www.standards.org.au