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Following devastating cyclones, Australia assists Fiji in rebuilding and preventing future damage through building and construction standards.

What’s new in the world of standards?

Standards Australia develops and adopts voluntary standards for use in Australia. We do this to support the needs of industry, government and the wider community and help make Australia more efficient, productive and safe.

In the fire protection and firefighting sector we have been working hard on a range of important standards. Standards Australia has a long history of development work in the sector, and a significant proportion of our resources are dedicated to the sector. We are also working through a program of work to make engagement with us simpler, faster and better.

Alison Scotland, National Sector Manager for Building and Construction, provides us with an update on what’s happening in the standards world.

Planning for emergencies in facilities

In November 2016, Standards Australia technical committee FP-017, Emergency Management Procedures kicked off a project for the second amendment to AS 3745-2010, Planning for emergencies in facilities.

AS 3745-2010 can be used by facility owners, managers, occupiers and employers as a primary resource for information on how to create and implement emergency plans to meet workplace health and safety legislation. The standard currently provides limited guidance on lockdown and armed intruder events; however it does not account for lockout procedures or the nature of an active shooter scenario. In light of recent events in Australia and beyond, there is a need to provide further guidance on how to respond to terrorist attacks or similar emergencies.

The purpose of this amendment is to further define responses to emergencies to include lockdown, lockout and armed intruder/active shooter procedures. The aim is to include two appendices providing detailed advice on lockdown and active shooter procedures, which will assist employers having to address such an emergency in their emergency plans. The committee will also be amending and clarifying the requirements for evacuation diagrams, ensuring plans achieve their aim of helping occupants evacuate or move through a facility in an emergency.

Whilst this amendment is limited in scope and size, it is expected that further discussion will be required amongst industry, emergency services organisations, government, security bodies, consumers and other stakeholder groups. Standards Australia plans to host a forum in 2017 with interested stakeholders to determine what the next steps are in relation to planning for emergencies in our workplaces and built facilities. If you are interested in learning more about this upcoming forum, please contact mail@standards.org.au.

Disaster relief and “building back better” in Fiji

Whilst Standards Australia focuses on developing standards for the net benefit of the Australian community, we are also a founding member of the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC), and cooperate closely with the government in the standards and conformance activities of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN-CER).

Following the devastating effects of cyclones in Fiji, the Pacific Island nation is still working to rebuild. Standards Australia has been working with colleagues in Australia and overseas to ensure that Fiji has the capacity to rebuild, using the opportunity to improve homes, infrastructure and systems.

As part of this process, Standards Australia aims to assist Fiji on the standards front as part of our contribution towards improving the safety and performance of buildings in the region. These standards cover aspects of construction materials, design loads, methods for fire testing and design for access and mobility.

AS 3745 will be amended to provide additional guidance for lockout procedures and active shooter scenarios.

AS 3745 will be amended to provide additional guidance for lockout procedures and active shooter scenarios.

Some new standards to look out for…

There are important shifts happening across the board that are affecting the development of standards for the fire protection and firefighting industry. Governments are finding ways to reduce their emissions for a sustainable future, industries and technology are moving faster than ever before, and data lies in everything as the world converges. These trends cannot be ignored, and the fire sector will ultimately be caught up in this movement.

We have taken a number of steps toward streamlining our processes so that issues of speed to market become less and less of a problem. This includes both adoption of international (ISO or IEC) documents, and the development of Australian Standards.

Some standards that have most recently been published in your sector include:

  • AS 1851-2012 Amdt 1:2016, Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment  – The definitions of baseline data and Clause 1.8 have been updated to reflect that the baseline data required by AS 1851—2012 is only what is required to verify the result of a service activity and only required where such baseline data was required by the approved design.
  • AS 5113:2016, Fire propagation testing and classification of external walls of buildings – Sets out the procedures for the assessment and classification of external walls of buildings according to their tendency to spread fire via the building façade.
  • AS 1670.5:2016, Fire detection, warning, control and intercom systems – System design, installation and commissioning – Part 5: Special hazards systems – Aligned with international standards, this Standard sets out requirements for the design, installation and commissioning of special hazards detection, actuation and control systems comprising components.
  • AS 5062:2016, Fire protection for mobile and transportable equipment – Specifies fire risk management procedures and the minimum requirements for fire protection system design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance for use on mobile and transportable equipment. The requirements for listing of fire protection systems and the testing requirements for pre-engineered foam-water spray systems are also specified.

Going digital

Late last year, Standards Australia’s Board approved a substantial investment in our digital transformation program. This was done after a comprehensive review of how digital transformation fits into our role in the economy today, and tomorrow.

The world of tomorrow demands more than that of today. It’s a world where value adding to content will be the rule, not the exception. The focus is to ensure the good use of contributor time with maximum flexibility for whatever the future may look like.

We are currently in the first phase of this transformation. This stage involves the establishment of a central and searchable content repository and connecting content development to digital curation and flexibility of outputs. This will allow us in the first place to be quicker on the development side, provide contributors which a greater level of depth of access to our catalogue, and improve our process overall for all involved.

We value and appreciate the time given to us by our contributors. We need to maximise their outcomes to make it simpler, faster and better to work with us and use our standards.

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

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Alison Scotland is a National Sector Manager at Standards Australia responsible for Building and Construction, and Consumer Products, Services and Safety. Over the course of her career she has worked for Sydney Water, NSW Health and the plumbing and roofing industries.

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