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Industry can now make more informed choices when selecting external wall systems.

Standards Australia – Fire propagation testing and classification of external walls

By increasing community awareness of standards, they can help industry and consumers make informed purchasing decisions. For this reason, Standards Australia works with industry, government and community interests to develop voluntary standards for the building and construction sector through an inclusive and transparent process.

One recent project of relevance in your sector is the development of AS 5113:2016, Fire propagation testing and classification of external walls of buildings.

The standard sets out procedures for testing and classification of external walls according to their tendency to limit the spread of fire across their surface and between neighbouring buildings. It can be applied to external vertical surfaces and external wall systems. It does not however apply to the fire resistance or load bearing capacity of external walls.

Mr Paul England, Chair of Standards Australia’s fire safety committee said that the publication is expected to improve fire safety by providing a classification method for the fire performance of combustible external walls, making it easier to select appropriate external wall systems.

Mr England further added that “the standard will facilitate quantification of performance in the area of fire safety consistent in with ABCB initiatives”.

AS 5113:2016 also integrates international standard test methods where possible. These test methods were selected to ensure consistency with international approaches and the availability and cost effectiveness of testing services in Australia while maintaining the validity and effectiveness of the classification system.

The standard is split into three main sections that set out classification testing, classification procedures and reporting requirements. It also has informative appendices containing guidance information for the application of the standard. These include an example of classification system application to combustible construction and a commentary containing some guidance on the selection of test methods included in the standard.

This standard is the result of considerable effort and dedication on behalf of the FP-018 Technical Committee on Fire Safety and represents a consensus view of industry associations, fire authorities, test laboratories and the ABCB.

At the Building Ministers’ Forum in February 2016, Ministers agreed to work cooperatively to implement a range of measures to address safety issues associated with high risk building products. As a part of this initiative, consideration is being given as to how this standard might be used for regulatory purposes.

For more information, go to www.standards.org.au

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