The year started for many Australians in an unimaginable and devastating way; the bushfire crisis touched every state, community and individual both directly and indirectly. However, the resilience and support of the Australian people has been both touching and inspiring.
Supporting and standing alongside Australian communities through the massive rebuild effort is a top priority for Standards Australia. We understand how integral standards are in building resilient structures, and for this reason have partnered with the Australian Commonwealth government to jointly fund access to AS 3959:2018, Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas.
The standard, which aims to better equip houses with the ability to withstand fires, can be accessed from now until June 2021 at no cost to the public. As communities, government, councils and individuals begin the recovery process, Standards Australia hopes this key standard will assist communities in developing the most resilient structures possible in these affected areas.
Without our volunteers, stakeholders and the general public, Standards Australia would not be able to develop standards for the Australian people to use as tools in their rebuild processes. In a time when the Australian people are banding together, we are proud and honoured to support the many affected communities.
The committee responsible for this standard represents regulators, emergency services and some of the leading experts in their areas. While the committee is constantly working on the upkeep of this standard, members of the industry and the general public are always encouraged to provide research or input to enhance the evolution of this standard.
We encourage anyone who has been affected by the bushfires, or hopes to build in bushfire-prone areas, to access and utilize the standard. In addition to this support, Standards Australia continues to be committed to its public purpose: developing standards for the benefit of the Australian community.
Use of Aluminium Composite Panel receives guidance
Cladding and its use continues to be a large cause for concern across Australia and the globe. In September 2019 Standards Australia published a technical specification for the permanent labelling of Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP) products. This important document comes after the Building Ministers Forum asked Standards Australia to work with the industry to develop guidance for the community.
Tragic incidents such as the fires at Lacrosse and Grenfell have been a catalyst for this publication and the use of cladding continues to be a challenge for the industry. However, this is a good news story. It proves steps are being taken to address this issue in the building sector.
SA TS 5344:2019 Permanent labelling for Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP) products intends to improve the ability of consumers and building practitioners to identify ACP-type products and, as a result, to reduce the possibility of product substitution that can result in the wrong product being supplied and installed.
Standards Australia developed this guidance with a range of technical experts across the broader ACP product supply chain including manufacturers, suppliers, designers, installers, testing bodies, certification bodies, regulators and building surveyors.
This publication is evidence Standards Australia, experts and representatives involved have heard and acted on the concerns of the community. Standards Australia will continue to work with the industry and stakeholders to provide relevant solutions to these types of complex challenges.
Energizing battery storage
New guidance has arrived for the battery storage sector with the publication of a standard late last year. The guidance sets out requirements around the safe installations of home batteries, including the use of non-combustible material when mounting the batteries onto a wall.
AS/NZS 5139:2019 Electrical installations – Safety of battery systems for use with power conversion equipment was a complex project, made possible by the support of industry representatives, government and regulators, consumer representatives and technical experts.
The standard has been developed for use by manufacturers, system integrators, designers and installers of battery energy storage systems. It intends to set out the requirements for the safety and installation of battery systems connected to power conversion equipment for the supply of AC and DC power.
In an effort to protect against the potential for the spread of fire should there be a fault within the battery, the standard outlines requirements around the mounting of home storage batteries. To meet the requirements of the standard, if the wall or structure the battery is being placed on is not made of suitable non-combustible material, a barrier must be placed between the battery and the wall.
Materials considered suitably non-combustible are brick or masonry block, concrete, compressed cement sheeting and ceramic or terracotta tiles. All other materials intended to be used need to be tested in accordance with AS 1530.1 Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures – Combustibility test for materials.
Having these types of guidelines in place aims to reduce the risk of fire spreading should one start within the battery. Setting out requirements that keep fire away from habitable rooms to protect consumers is an important aspect of this standard.
Standards Australia is committed to working with stakeholders and industry experts to provide guidelines to help ensure the safety of communities across the country. The work on battery storage standards will continue, with expected refinement as the industry evolves.
Strong standards help build a stronger Australia
This new year has already handed many challenges to the Australian people and we are committed to working alongside industry to help professionals do their job with confidence. Though there are challenges ahead, 2020 will be a busy time as we aim to make the most of what will hopefully be a decade of opportunity.
With so many emerging technologies and new methods entering the market Standards Australia welcomes advice or information on how to support the fire-protection industry and its processes. If you have any ideas or questions, please contact Standards Australia by emailing SEM@standards.org.au.
For more information, go to www.standards.org.au