This time last year, Australia was reeling from the ongoing bushfires, which saw communities band together to support affected individuals and wildlife. The resilience shown by Australians over the summer bushfire season and subsequent global pandemic was inspiring. Throughout the year Standards Australia worked to match that strength with strong standards for industry.
The standards work conducted throughout last year had a large focus on the protection of front-line workers and safety requirements for tools firefighters use to protect individuals and infrastructure.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is used every day by Australian workers, and in the aftermath of the 2019/2020 bushfires there were important discussions conducted around the durability of uniforms and equipment used by our front-line firefighters. From steel-capped boots, P2 respirators and surgical masks to reflective eyeglasses and firefighters’ helmets, these items are all essential to safe work practices.
To better prepare for future fire seasons, Standards Australia’s committee for Personal Protective Equipment (SF-052) worked throughout 2020 to adopt, discuss and develop guidance that supports safe and sturdy PPE.
After seeing firefighters from North America sent to help fight the many blazes across the country, the committee worked with international colleagues to adopt key standards for PPE, from eye and face protection to protective gloves. These standards included test methods for protective equipment and general requirements.
Aligning Australian and international PPE standards continues to be an important part of nations being able to support each other in catastrophic conditions and means international firefighters do not need to be supplied country-specific equipment but can use their own.
Another key area of discussion has been around the different kind of masks used for firefighter protection. Particulate filters are classified and marked as P1, P2 or P3, with P3 providing the highest level of respiratory protection.
Currently working with international standards bodies to update and develop guidance that is internationally applicable for respiratory protection equipment, Australia’s technical committee is looking into the potential adoption and publication of several international respiratory protective device standards.
Fire hydrants are key in assisting firefighters to control the spread of fire and protect neighbouring properties. As such an important tool in protecting communities, it is essential fire hydrants are accessible, working effectively and regularly tested.
Enter, AS 2419.1, Fire hydrant installations, Part 1: System design, installation and commissioning, which sets out requirements for the design, installation, commissioning and testing of fire-hydrant installations.
A revision of the 2017 edition is set to head to public comment in early 2021. The proposed updates have been made to better meet regulatory requirements and technological changes within industry over the past few years.
Standards Australia encourages industry stakeholders and the broader community to give feedback on the draft updates.
A global commenting system
The public consultation period of the standards development process is integral to understanding the needs of industry and gaining practical feedback from the end users of standards. Standards Australia wants to make that process as simple as possible for everyone involved.
In October 2020, Standards Australia launched its new public commenting platform through the contributor portal, Connect (www.connect.standards.org.au).
With a new and improved navigation system, the public comment platform gives users the ability to read and endorse comments left on a standard by other contributors and informs individuals if their comment/s have been accepted by the committee before publication.
Perhaps one of the biggest updates is the system allowing for comments on international standards proposed for adoption in Australia. This is an important update for the fire-protection sector, which has a huge amount of Australian participation in the international standards development space.
Being able to comment on international standards means should guidance related to the fire services industry come up for adoption, stakeholders and experts across the country will be able to give feedback on the guidance, including whether or not it needs to be adjusted for Australian conditions.
2020 going on 2021
The new year comes with renewed ambitions, insights and strategic goals. Standards Australia looks forward to continued engagement with the fire services sector throughout 2021 to explore new areas of interest while also investing and updating traditional guidance.
Hearing from those across industry, whether it be to propose a standard or give feedback on ongoing work, is key to Standards Australia being able to provide effective and user centric standards. If you would like to get in touch, please email SEM@standards.org.au.
For more information, go to www.standards.org.au