Since the summer bushfires of 2020, industry has been working to understand how to help mitigate further disasters and protect Australian infrastructure as best as possible. Providing guidance that assists in the safe construction of our built environment is at the core of the work we are doing at Standards Australia.
The last few months have seen Standards Australia engage with industry, government and the community to develop integral guidance for the sector and work to stay agile and adaptable in the face of COVID-19.
Dictionary of building and plumbing terms
To assist in providing a solution to the different definitions and names for similar items across the building and plumbing industry, Standards Australia, in partnership with the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) have launched an online National Dictionary of Building & Plumbing Terms (www.constructiondictionary.com.au).
This website is an important tool in providing clarity and consistency for workers, consumers and organizations. It enables individuals to search for definitions used in the National Construction Code (NCC), Australian (and joint AS/NZS) Standards and Handbook 50:2004, Glossary of building terms. The website aims to provide a general hierarchy of results to assist interpretation.
As definitions change and consolidate in the future, Standards Australia is committed to continued collaboration with both the building and plumbing sectors to update and refine the website.
Sprinkling of standards
Both fire detection and protection standards are important tools for industry and consumers in assisting to safeguard buildings, homes and individuals against potential hazards. These types of standards aim to set out minimum requirements for emergency warning and protection systems such as sprinklers and smoke alarms.
June saw three fire detection standards published, which included:
- AS 4428.16:2020 Fire detection, warning, control and intercom systems – Control and indicating equipment, Part 16: Emergency warning control and indicating equipment
- AS 4428.3:2020 Fire detection, warning, control and intercom systems – Control and indicating equipment, Part 3: Fire brigade panel
- AS 1603.17:2020 Automatic fire detection and alarm systems, Part 17: Warning equipment for people with hearing impairment.
AS 4428.16:2020 and AS 4428.3:2020 set out requirements for control and indicating equipment while AS 1603.17 provides tests and requirements for devices like vibrating pads and visual alarm devices. Alarms can’t be heard or recognized by every individual, and AS 1603.17 is a key tool in aiming to protect and alert those with hearing loss through alternative methods.
Alongside the publication of these standards was the recent amendment to AS 2118.1 Automatic fire sprinkler systems, Part 1: General. The 95-page amendment, developed by the committee of industry experts, covers a range of technical and general updates to the standard.
Despite 2020 having its challenges, this has not slowed down the work of Standards Australia’s technical committees to provide strategic fire guidance for industry and consumers.
Bushfire Royal Commission Update
The summer bushfires can seem like a long time ago, yet the devastating impacts are still being felt by communities across Australia. Almost daily reminders of the enormous impact of these fires have been heard at the Royal Commission into the National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
There have been over 1,700 public submissions exploring how to mitigate the effects of future disasters, one of which was from Standards Australia. During July, our team also presented the recommendations outlined in our submission and answered subsequent questions from the Commission. Standards Australia looks forward to the findings of the final report due at the end of August 2020.
The last quarter
Entering the later months of the year, Standards Australia is working to say adaptable and consider what the rest of 2020 will hold. Providing guidance for the benefit of Australia is a top priority, alongside focusing on our customers and working to make standards more accessible to industry and consumers. We look forward to continued engagement with the fire-protection industry as we work to protect and build more resilient communities.
Building in a bushfire-prone area?
This a reminder to those rebuilding after the bushfires or those looking to build in bushfire-prone areas, that the Commonwealth Government and Standards Australia are funding access to AS 3959:2018 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas until June 2021.
The standard provides guidance to professionals in the building and construction industry. It is primarily concerned with improving the ability of buildings in designated bushfire-prone areas to better withstand these types of disasters. The standard is available at no cost to all individuals, and Standards Australia encourages those building in bushfire prone areas to access the standard.
For more information, go to www.standards.org.au