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THE FIRE SAFETY AND COMPLIANCE ISSUE Proposed NCC changes Fabric testing Different standards Myth busting

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PLUS REGULARS News Marine Member Profile

13/11/17 4:10 PM


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IMPORTANT NOTICE TO PURCHASER All statements, technical advice and recommendations contained herein are based on tests believed to be reliable, but the accuracy thereof is not guaranteed, and the following is made in lieu of all warranties, expressed or implied: Seller’s and manufacturer’s only obligation shall be to replace the quantity of product proved to be defective. Neither seller nor manufacturer shall be liable for any injury, loss or damage, direct or consequential, arising out of the use of or the inability to use the product. Before using, user shall determine the suitability of the product for its intended use, and user assumes all risk and liability whatsoever in connection therewith. No statement or recommendation not contained herein shall have any force or effect unless in an agreement signed by officers of seller and manufacturer. VELCRO® and other marks are owned by Velcro BVBA. Copyright © 2017 Velcro.

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19/10/17 9:34 AM


Welcome to the third issue of Connections for 2017


ecent events across the globe have brought the issue of fire safety and compliance to the fore like never before. Governments and lawmakers everywhere are currently drafting new legislation and guidelines to ensure that the terrible events at Grenfell Tower in London are never repeated. It is likely that there will be significant consequences for those in the specialised textiles industry and so in this issue of Connections we explore some of these possible consequences and look at other issues associated with the topic. We hope you will feel informed and engaged by the articles included and look forward to any feedback or further information you may like to share with us. Madeleine Swain Editor

Editorial Contributions by the STA Editorial committee EXECUTIVE OFFICER Ana Drougas EDITOR Madeleine Swain EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Tiffany Paczek Design PRODUCTION MANAGER Alicia Pinnock DESIGN & DIGITAL PRE-PRESS Karl Dyer Advertising BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Neha Minhas

Publishing CHAIRMAN Nicholas Dower MANAGING DIRECTOR Paul Lidgerwood

NEXT ISSUE OF CONNECTIONS Remember this is your magazine, about your industry. And we always love to hear your feedback or ideas for the direction of the magazine. If you have any suggestions for articles or features that you think may be appropriate, please don’t hesitate to contact the editor directly at or Ana Drougas in the STA office at or on 03 9521 2114.

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STA NEWS Report from STA president, Beatrice Moonen Report from STA manager Ana Drougas


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FIRE SAFETY AND COMPLIANCE SECTION Glossary STA’s response to NCC proposal – Tiffany Paczek Compliance issues – Scott Williams Problem of different standards – Chris Arkell Fabric testing – Andrew Nasarczyk Fabrics of the future – Ron Gottlieb Myth busting – Jack Ferle Backword – Where to now?

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Connections magazine is published on behalf of the Specialised Textiles Association Inc by Niche Media Pty Ltd ABN 13 064 613 529 Suite 1418, Level 14, 1 Queens Road, Melbourne VIC 3004 Tel: 03 9948 4900 / Fax 03 9948 4999 Printing Graphic Impressions


Stock images courtesy of 123RF Front cover: 123RF’s Weerachai Khumfu ©

EVENTS Upcoming events for the specialised textiles industry, locally and internationally



Clear trimmings and how to pick the best product for the job

Corie Kotzur of Kotzur Kanvas

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Specialised Textiles Association 102/22 St Kilda Rd, St Kilda Vic 3182 Tel: 03 9521 2114 / Fax: 03 9521 2116 Email: All unsolicited material should be addressed to the attention of the editor at the address above. Material will only be returned if a postage prepaid self-addressed envelope is supplied. Niche Media Pty Ltd accepts no liability for loss or damage of unsolicited material. Connections is a publication of Niche Media Pty Ltd, ABN 13 064 613 529, 1 Queens Road, Melbourne Vic 3004 Australia, tel +613 9948 4900, fax +613 9948 4999. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, internet, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publishers. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication, the publishers accept no responsibility or liability for any errors, omissions or resultant consequences including any loss or damage arising from reliance on information in this publication. The opinions and material published in this publication are not necessarily endorsed by the editor, publisher or Niche Media Pty Ltd, unless where specifically stated.

10/11/17 3:39 PM


President’s report


elcome to this important edition of Connections where fire safety of industrial textile fabrics is the featured topic. The reviews, the opinions, the facts, the fire testing methods and the future of industrial fabrics are explored as Connections consults with industry experts and highlights the submission made by the Specialised Textiles Association (STA) of Australia to the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). Our industry receives positive recognition from government authorities, architects, designers and engineers who specify lightweight solar protection products. Fabric structures, shade sails, awnings and blinds offer solutions of high quality, which are fit for purpose. However, following the Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017 and other near tragedies, textile fabrics and their end products, while not implicated in any way at these fires, have nonetheless been questioned about combustibility. Products could be banned from external use on certain buildings if proposed amendments to the Australian Building Construction Code are not reined in. Did you know that some regulators are of the opinion that fabric colours significantly affect fire test results? I didn’t. Connections has taken a deeper look into this, to separate fact from fiction. The STA lobbies to support our industry. Currently, the Association is working on recognition of labour skill shortages and employment of foreign workers, our new industry apprenticeship package, industry consultation on Australian Standards, workplace safety grants and shade planning for playgrounds and schools. While you work hard in your business, your Association works hard dealing with the big issues that impact on its members. Fire safety is a huge concern. I hope you find this edition of Connections interesting. Beatrice Moonen, President STA

STA report


here is a lot happening at the STA at the moment. As a national industry association it is no surprise that we would keep a close eye on issues that not only concern, but also perhaps even threaten the future of industry at large that would require us to take necessary action. So, it would seem only fitting that this this issue of Connections would be dedicated to the many facets that make up the topic of fire retardancy – specific to fabrics. The National Construction Code (NCC) – which you can read about on page 12 – as well as the issue of compliance with regards to fabric performance in temporary structures are just two of the topics that the STA has taken on recently. Aside from lodging a submission regarding the suggested changes to the NCC, the STA has also lobbied, submitted comments and had meetings with various departments in order to best represent members. More recently, a meeting was held with the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) to discuss the interpretation of the standard and requirement that relates to fire retardancy specific to fabric colour. Members were concerned following the request for the provision of technical information specifically addressing the colour of the fabric used in a temporary structure. I am pleased to report that the meeting (with representatives from the STA, AWTA and VBA) had a positive outcome with all agreeing that the fabric colour bears very little significance to the performance of the fabric in the case of a fire. The STA will be working with the VBA to ensure that their advisers have supporting information when approving applications for temporary structures. Aside from all the work in representing industry, the STA has also been working on some exciting changes for all members – and nonmembers. These changes are a part of a strategy that will shape our association and the businesses we support over the next few years. This is our last issue of Connections for 2017 and I’d like to wish you all happy and safe holidays. Looking forward to connecting with you again in 2018. Ana Drougas, Executive Officer STA

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Issue Three 2017 CONNECTIONS

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Left to right: Steve Wormald, Ron Gottlieb and James Kelman with Max Brady

As reported in the previous edition of Connections, this year, industry stalwart Max Brady sold the last of his company Darling Downs Tarpaulins (DDT) to Michael and Cathy Ryan – a move that heralds exciting new opportunities for both parties. Brady tells Connections, “It’s a culmination of a fairly long held plan, you might even call it a succession plan, I suppose. Michael was always going to be plan A, which was to have him, in due course, take over the business. He’s been a loyal employee since 1984, so I’m pleased to see that he and his wife Cathy are the ultimate owners and it’s in good hands.” For Brady, a well-deserved retirement is ahead. He intends to enjoy life with his wife, pottering around on his rural NSW property and having the chance to travel more. And while this slower paced life will be relished, Brady will keep a keen eye on DDT. “Michael and I have got an arrangement where, if he needs any consultancy work done, particularly down in this part of the world, or if I see an opportunity that he can take advantage of, then we’ll concentrate on that together,” he says. “So effectively, he’s invited me to remain as a consultant on an ad hoc basis, and [if I] have some sort of a contribution to make, then I’ll make it. It’s a pretty simple arrangement, really. Retirement and ongoing consultancy for me, and taking advantage of opportunities for Michael and Cathy.” Brady foresees a flourishing future for DDT. “I’d like to think, given the ongoing developments and growth that south-east Queensland’s enjoying, Michael and Cathy will be well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that’ll come their way. I can see consolidation and growth, [and there’s] no reason to think that it won’t prosper.”

Max Brady receiving his life member recognition at the 2012 STA Awards

AN ANNOUNCEMENT FROM NOLAN GROUP The Nolan Group is pleased to announce the acquisition of Polyfab Australia. For more than a decade both companies have worked together in a strategic partnership to become one of Australia’s leading commercial shade cloth suppliers. Capitalising on the knowledge, research and development, and relationships with foreign partners, the Nolan Group is delighted with this news. What does this mean for our industry short term? Nothing changes… it is simply business as usual for the time being. Barry Jamieson and Mark Case will continue to run Polyfab independently from their Carrum Downs facility in Melbourne. This step provides several benefits to the Australian market including continuity of this iconic brand. Polyfab Australia has always been at the forefront of shade cloth development, with a strong focus on UVR block and protecting Australians. This innovationbased approach will not only continue, it will be enhanced with this change. Their comprehensive offering is engineered specifically for the Australian market and complies with all the building and industry requirements. Decades of proven performance have offered both fabricators and consumers peace of mind that Polyfab shade cloth is a perfect match for the Australian environment.

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10/11/17 11:41 AM


For the full range of premium technical textiles to enhance your next project contact ricky today on 02 9735 3333

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28/07/17 9:33 AM


New Strataglass distribution scheme will support marine trimmers


trataglass, the industry leader in flexible composite clear vinyl enclosure products, is implementing a new Australian distribution scheme. The company has appointed Nolan Group as its authorised master distributor for all Strataglass LLC brands in Australia. The purpose of this new distribution strategy is to enhance Strataglass’ value proposition of helping customers to grow their business by delivering high-quality products and services on time, every day. With six Nolan Group distribution centres strategically located across the country, the Strataglass brand products

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will soon be readily available to marine trimmers and OEM (original equipment manufacturers) throughout Australia. This distribution scheme is the latest development in the expansion of the Strataglass brand, and its parent company Herculite, to become a worldwide total solution provider and to improve the quality of how it delivers its products to its end users. Chris Nolan, president of Nolan Group, says, “We are delighted to be expanding our business with the addition of the Strataglass brand products. Along with Herculite and Strataglass, we share common values and business principles.

“Herculite’s 65-year commitment to quality and customer satisfaction will continue to benefit our employees, distribution partners and customers,” he says. President of Herculite Products Peter McKernan shares this excitement and vision. “Nolan Group is a world-class company and has been an important distribution partner with Herculite for over 30 years,” he says. “We are excited about expanding our business together with Strataglass and CrystalClear enclosure products. Both brands are iconic and have a solid reputation for quality worldwide.”

14/11/17 1:39 PM

FIRE SAFETY AND COMPLIANCE Welcome to this special Connections lift-out. In the following pages you will find… ●

Glossary – all the terms and standards explained

Make a stand – the STA’s response to the proposed amendments to the National Construction Code

● ●

Competency and compliance – the FPAA’s Scott Williams argues that product non-conformity is not the issue, competency and compliance are

Fabrics, fire codes and standards – Innova International’s Chris Arkell makes the case for consistent mandatory standards across the board Fire resistance of coated fabrics – Gale Pacific’s Andrew Nasarczyk explains the current tests

Fabric innovation – Ricky’s Ron Gottlieb examines the future of fabrics

Myth busting – Ricky’s Jack Ferle reveals some of the most potentially industry damaging myths

Backword – Where to now? from Serge Ferrari

123RF’s Luca Luppi ©

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14/11/17 1:38 PM


GLOSSARY OF TERMS In among all the legalese and raft of political reviews and reports devoted to the issue of fire safety and compliance, there are many terms, descriptors and acronyms that get keep popping up. Here Connections provides simple definitions of the most common ones.

ACRONYMS ABCB – Australian Building Codes Board BCC – Building Codes Committee FPAA – Fire Protection Association of Australia FSI – Flame Spread Index NCC – National Construction Code TERMINOLOGY (PRIMARILY RELATED TO FIRE RETARDANCY TESTING AND CERTIFICATION) C1.14 – proposed amendment of the NCC entitled Ancillary Elements, stating, “An ancillary element must not be fixed to, attached to or form part of an external wall that is required to be non-combustible.” Combustibility – a measure of how easily a substance will set on fire, through fire or combustion. It is also important in processes that produce combustible substances as a by-product.

Flame retardant – a substance that is applied to fabric, wood or other material in order to make it resistant to catching fire (sometimes used as a synonym of fire retardant). Flame spread – also known as surface burning characteristics rating. This is a ranking derived by a laboratory standard test methodology of a material’s propensity to burn rapidly and spread flames. Flammability – the ability of a substance to burn or ignite, causing fire or combustion. Flammable materials – those that ignite more easily than other materials, whereas those that are less easily ignited or that burn less vigorously are combustible. Heat release parameter – dimensionless parameter that measures the amount of heat released by the combustion process. Ignition – the onset of continuous flaming.

EN-ISO FR classification Building material class


Class A

A1 Non-combustible materials

Class B


Non-combustible – made of material that does not burn if exposed to fire; incombustible

A2 Not easily flammable

B2 Flammable

Smoke release – amount of smoke released in combustion testing.

B3 Easily flammable

STANDARDS Fire retardant – a substance that is used to slow or stop the spread of fire or reduce its intensity. This is commonly accomplished by chemical reactions that reduce the flammability of fuels or delay their combustion. Fire retardants may also cool the fuel through physical action or endothermic chemical reaction. Flame propagation – propagation of the reaction zone or ‘combustion wave’ through a combustible mixture. It is the spread of flame in a combustible environment outward from the point at which the combustion started.

Australian Standard AS1530 Part 1: Methods of fire testing on building materials, components and structures. Combustibility test for materials. Sets out a test method for determining the combustibility of building materials and is one of a series of test methods for evaluating the potential fire hazard of building products. This fire test was developed for use by those responsible for selection of construction materials that, although not completely inert, produce only a limited amount of heat and flame when exposed to temperatures of 750 degrees

Celsius. This revision aligns the test method more closely with ISO 1182:1990, but specifies combustibility criteria for regulatory purposes. Australian Standard AS1530 Part 2: Methods for fire tests on building materials, components and structures. Test for flammability of materials. The test specimen is mounted on a vertical support frame. A small denatured alcohol flame is used as an ignition source. Either the highest reach point of the flame during the test or the time for the flame to reach a marked point is determined. The speed factor, spread factor, heat factor and flammability index are calculated. Australian Standard AS1530 Part 3: Methods for fire testing on building materials, components and structures. Simultaneous determination of ignitability, flame propagation, heat release and smoke release A test specimen is mounted vertically and brought in front of a heat source, which is a vertical gas-fired ceramic panel. At definite intervals the specimen is moved closer to the heat source in a series of graded steps until ignition occurs. During the exposure of the specimen, a small glass pilot flame is held in front of the specimen to ignite gasses given off but not to the surface of the specimen. The ignitability index (representing the mean time to ignite), the spread of flame index, the heat evolved index and the smoke developed index are calculated. SOURCES Fire Defender ( FR One ( Merriam-Webster (www.merriam-webster. com) SAI Global ( Science Direct ( The Free Dictionary (http://encyclopedia2. Wikipedia ( 123RF’s Luca Luppi ©

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8/11/17 11:18 AM

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30/10/2017 1:45 PM 31/10/17 10:36 AM


Here comes summer


ith summer almost here, the market turns its attention to how to make the most of outdoor spaces in the warmer weather. The Shann Group is excited to announce the launch of Urban Track, an external retractable blind system, completely designed in Australia. Urban Track has been tried and tested under harsh Australian conditions, and offers superior functionality and flexibility to enjoy outdoor spaces, not only in the warmer months, but all year round. Featuring an easy installation process and a sturdy aluminium and steel construction, Urban Track offers three types of operation and a comprehensive warranty.

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Also new to The Shann Group’s outdoor offering is the Frigerio range of folding arm awnings. Manufactured in Italy, Frigerio awnings are synonymous with quality, style and reliability. With a revered history, design is part of the culture at Frigerio, interpreting contemporary trends of living and providing synergy between fabrics, structures and accessories. Using the best materials to ensure a high aesthetic value and solid construction, all Frigerio awnings are subject to stringent quality control and are fully tested prior to leaving the factory. The Shann Group also has exciting news for internal fabrics. The hugely popular Castille is back in stock.

The softly textured Castille foam-coated blockout blind fabric is perfect for use in roller and panel blinds. Available in a range of 10 gorgeous, designer colours and featuring same coloured back, Castille is colour fast and durable, PVC free and fade resistant. And set to accompany Castille is the stunning new Motif fabric, details coming soon. For further information on Urban Track, Frigerio folding arm awnings, Castille or any product in the comprehensive range available from The Shann Group, please contact your local Shann branch.

10/11/17 9:13 AM

FEATURE 13 123RF’s zerbor ©



n the wake of the terrible events at London’s Grenfell Tower and Melbourne’s Lacrosse Tower, the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has responded with a detailed and strong action plan. This is, in itself, admirable; however, its proposed changes to the National Construction Code (NCC) will have far-reaching and potentially damaging effects on the textile industry. The inferno at Grenfell Tower was unquestionably horrific, and the 2014 blaze at Docklands’ Lacrosse Tower was also concerning, and measures should certainly be taken to ensure incidents such as these never occur again. The ABCB has done this by revising the NCC and proposing the changes be implemented in 2019, but these changes will, if adopted, have a drastic impact on the textile industry and many Specialised Textiles Association (STA) members. The proposed section C1.14 of the NCC is of particular concern, because it attempts to include all textile products used in the specialised textiles industry as combustible ancillary items and, therefore, proposes to ban their use on building exteriors.

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This proposed amendment, entitled ‘Ancillary elements’, states: “An ancillary element must not be fixed to, attached to or form part of an external wall that is required to be non-combustible.” That is, unless it is: ● an ancillary element that is non-combustible ● a gutter, downpipe or other plumbing fixture or fitting ● flashing ● a grate or grille not more than two metres squared in area ● an electrical switch, socket-outlet, cover plate or the like ● a light fitting ● a required sign ● a sign that achieves a group number of one or two, does not extend beyond one storey, does not extend beyond one fire compartment and is separated vertically from other signs permitted by at least two storeys ● a part of a security, intercom or announcement system ● paint, lacquer or a similar finish, or ● a gasket, caulking, sealant or adhesive directly associated with the aforementioned criteria.

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123RF’s iqoncept ©

STA president Beatrice Moonen says that the proposed amendment C1.14, relating to ancillary building elements, extends the review of a much wider range of products than aluminium composite materials (ACMs), which were implicated in the spread of the fires at Grenfell and Lacrosse towers. “If amendment C1.14 is to be introduced, the STA would like to add another category of ancillary elements, namely (L) awnings, blinds, shade structures and sails, to the list of non-excluded items,” she says. “Adding these products to combustible ancillary items in C1.14 and banning their use as attachments to exterior building walls has the capacity to destroy an industry that has operated safely in Australia for many years and supported thousands of families.” Members of the STA have also expressed concern over the proposed changes to sections C1.1 (type of construction required) and C1.9 (non-combustible building elements). Section C1.9 stipulates, in short, that the following must be ‘non-combustible’: external and common walls, including all components incorporated in them, such as façade covering, framing and insulation, floor and floor framing of lift pits, non-loadbearing internal walls (where they are required to be fire-resisting), and a ventilating, pipe, garbage or similar shaft, or a lift, that is nonloadbearing and is not for the discharge of hot products of combustion.

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In the aftermath of these proposed amendments to the NCC, trepidation has rippled through the STA community and the textile industry. With such widespread and significant proposed restrictions to the compliancy codes of buildings, many businesses within the industry would suffer as a direct consequence. Producers of external awnings, blinds, shade structures and sails would feel the effects of the changes, as they would limit the range of materials deemed ‘compliant’. The concern is that these products, which are currently classified as ‘fire-retardant’ in Australia and around the world, and which are currently subject to rigorous fire testing, would fall into the new ancillary category and be reclassified as ‘combustible’ – and thus banned from use on building exteriors as a result. The proposed changes to the NCC are currently open for public comment, feedback and review, and Moonen has drafted a response on behalf of the Association. In it, she outlines the detrimental impact the new codes will have on the industry, highlights the compliancy of awnings, blinds, shades and sails with current codes and asks for these to be added as non-excluded items. Awnings, blinds, shades and sails are lightweight and twodimensional, and are typically attached to buildings using aluminium or steel hardware fittings. They are not used as a widespread wall cladding or façade cover, or in framing or insulation. These are important distinctions from the products

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detailed in NCC section C1.9, Moonen writes, as the shade cloths, canvases and PVC products used for many years by the industry in Australia have never been implicated in any major fire event. “The ability of these products to contribute to heat generation or flame propagation is insignificant,” she says. Clause 2.4 of section C1.1 allows for a ‘combustible’ material to be used as an awning or blind on an external fire-rated wall in most classes of buildings, as long as it meets certain ‘fire hazard properties’ (specific to Australian Standard 1530.3 testing), is not located above a fire exit and does not constitute an undue risk of fire spread. “The fabrics commonly used in awnings and shade structures comply with these requirements and have low values of ‘ignitability index’, as measured by AS 1530.2,” Moonen says. “Therefore, they do not catch fire easily and are generally self-extinguishing if the heat source is removed. “The proposed changes to the National Construction Code 2019 are so far reaching, extending even to our safe and compliant industry, which was not in any way associated with the very serious fires of late,” concludes Moonen. The closing date for public comments on the proposed changes is 13 April 2018, and NCC 2019 will be adopted by Australian states and territories on 1 May 2019. C

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Issue Three 2017 CONNECTIONS

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16 FEATURE 123RF’s Ian Redding ©

WITHOUT COMPETENCY, HOW CAN WE HAVE COMPLIANCE? Scott Williams is the chief executive officer of the FPAA. In this article, originally published in Architectural Review (#151), he discusses the topical issue of fire safety and compliance in Australia and the implications for the various stakeholders in the construction industry and built environment. BY SCOTT WILLIAMS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION AUSTRALIA


ecent media coverage of fire protection in Australia has been dominated by discussion of products that don’t conform to building codes and standards, and whether the codes and standards we do have are working. Driving that coverage have been two key events: the Lacrosse apartment fire in Melbourne in 2014, and the recent Grenfell apartment fire in London, which to date has claimed 87 lives. The tragic event at Grenfell has resonated so strongly in Australia because of its uncomfortable similarity to the earlier blaze at Lacrosse, a fire that took the industry and the general public by surprise. While Lacrosse began a national conversation in Australia about fire safety, the awful human cost of the Grenfell fire has added a new urgency to it. Grenfell provided a terrible vision of what can happen when codes and standards are not complied with – the full and shocking magnitude of a breakdown in regulatory control. In recent years, the UK has systematically embarked on a program of red tape reduction to stimulate economic growth, not dissimilar to Australia.

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This appears to have generated a climate where safety and ensuring compliance to building codes and standards has been perceived as an impediment that can and quite often is being neglected. When asked if a fire like Grenfell could happen in Australia, our answer is a positive yes. The conditions behind the severity of the Grenfell fire are, fundamentally, the same as those behind the Lacrosse fire, which avoided similar fatalities more by good luck than anything else. Both buildings were made vulnerable to fire by products and practices that did not conform to stringent building codes and standards, in this case combustible cladding. The conversation has understandably therefore focused on product conformity. But while product conformity is important, Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) strongly contends that this issue is a function of a much broader underlying problem, which, if left untreated, will continue to create significant public safety risk. We don’t have a product non-conformity issue. What we have is a significant national competency and compliance issue. We have an

10/11/17 11:45 AM

exterior awnings & blinds b est in class r espected quality & performance e xcellence in manufacturing l eading canvas awning fabric l egendary industry standing a ustralian made Australia’s leading , largest and superior quality, external blinds and awnings canvas fabric. Brella Fabrics is a Division of Bradmill Outdoor Fabrics Pty Ltd ABN 16 006 911 119 3/100 Fulton Drive, Derrimut VIC 3030 Telephone: (03) 9368 2222 | Facsimile: (03) 9368 2211 | Email: Web: I

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Scott Williams

environment where poor decisions are being made throughout the building and construction process because of inadequate education and practitioner accreditation, coupled with an inconsistent and often inadequate approach by state and territory governments to effective fire safety building controls. The establishment of the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) and the National Construction Code (NCC) represents the single most important advancement since Federation in delivering national construction requirements. The micro-economic reform agenda of the Federal Government in the late 1980s ultimately delivered, via inter-governmental agreement, some of the best building codes and standards the world had seen, which provide the necessary flexibility to keep pace with new products and materials. The foundation of any regulatory framework is contemporary technical provisions. These provisions must have clear objectives and pathways that allow proven and emerging technology to be embraced by industry to deliver cost-effective and safe outcomes. The NCC and its referenced standards underpin the technical provisions nationally. FPA Australia contends that these codes and standards, which have incorporated performance-based provisions since 1996, remain sound and have delivered a national approach to technical requirements that has improved efficiency and represents an agreed benchmark for compliance.

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WHEN ASKED IF A FIRE LIKE GRENFELL COULD HAPPEN IN AUSTRALIA, OUR ANSWER IS A POSITIVE ‘YES’. While it’s healthy for the codes and standards to continue responding to the latest trends, techniques and technology, we don’t consider wholesale changes are necessary to the NCC and associated standards beyond the current ABCB work plan. No amount of codes, standards or regulation writing can compensate for a lack of minimum competency requirements and ongoing education, however. There are myriad roles in the building and construction industry, and they are often quite complex. If the individuals performing them are unclear about the extent of their responsibilities and how to interpret and apply elements of the codes and standards relevant to them, we will continue to experience a lack of compliance, and therefore increased risk to public safety. There is currently no alignment between Australian jurisdictions regarding minimum competency requirements for the fire protection industry. There is no agreement to use nationally recognised units of competency wherever possible, despite work on this by the Australian Qualifications Training Framework. There are significant gaps in available units of competency and qualifications to underpin all fire protection activities, but perhaps the most concerning and alarming factor is that there is no agreement to define what the key roles and responsibilities are of those individuals involved in fire safety and fire protection. Without the introduction of consistent national administrative provisions determining the roles and actions of different stakeholders in design, construction and post-construction, as well as minimum competency requirements for those roles, the benefits of Australia’s world-class building codes and standards will never be truly realised. Practitioners, consumers and the community will continue to experience a lack of accountability, defects, confusion and negative economic prosperity, but most importantly increased and unacceptable risk to public safety. Compliance with current codes and standards would flag nonconforming products, allowing them to be reported and defects corrected – an approach of fixing the problem in the beginning, rather than trying to pick up the pieces at the end. So why is it so difficult to apply a minimum level of competency in the fire protection industry at a national level? While we have a solid foundation of national codes and standards, one of the biggest challenges for industry education has been the inconsistency in interpretation of the codes and standards between states and territories. As a result, compliance looks very different depending on where you are in Australia. FPA Australia’s experience is that not only are the administrative provisions for adopting codes and standards and maintaining compliance different in every jurisdiction, enforcement is token at best and in some cases non-existent. No jurisdiction has a coordinated regime in place to conduct meaningful enforcement of the codes and standards of professional conduct, and there is little incentive for industry to ensure compliance in a competitive marketplace driven by cost and small margins. There is no national capture of data that could be used to improve requirements and inform educational messaging.

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Ultimately, Australia has sound building codes and standards, but they cannot be effective if they are not complied with. Our codes and standards are not being consistently implemented by competent people to ensure our buildings are compliant during construction and post-construction. As it stands, it is often the unfortunate building certifier or surveyor at the end of the process that unfairly carries nearly all the burden of risk, given that they have deemed the building compliant to the codes and standards and suitable to occupy, despite not having been supported by competent individuals along the way. This singular issue is beyond comprehension. To help navigate through this confusion, FPA Australia introduced a voluntary accreditation scheme underpinned by minimum levels of competency for fire protection practitioners. These services cater to those in the industry looking to provide the best possible fire safety outcomes, and to consumers looking for professionals who can deliver the best possible outcomes. FPA Australia provides a list of accredited practitioners on our website. While the accreditation we offer is currently voluntary, FPA Australia has been working with governments at all levels, in particular through the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF), to nationally highlight the need for national minimum competency and compliance requirements. We implore them to address the failing of our building and construction administrative control processes and provide leadership to restore confidence in the building industry, and improve fire protection outcomes to ensure everyone in Australia is safe. We believe fire safety in Australia and globally should not be left to chance, and it is the shared responsibility of all stakeholders to display leadership in improving the safety of people, property and the environment, and ensuring tragedies like the Grenfell fire are not repeated. C



STA’S RESPONSE TO THE FPAA POSITION Beatrice Moonen Scott Williams is a supporter of the accreditation of fire safety practitioners and the National Construction Code (NCC). He believes the NCC and the establishment of the ABCB has delivered building codes and standards in Australia since the late 1980s that are world class. His concern is for improved national consistency in compliance and enforcement and believes the FPA has the capabilities to train competent personnel who can ensure compliance with the code during and after construction. This would refocus the burden of risk onto specifically trained personnel. He does not believe the BCC needs to be changed at all. This is another sound perspective in the fire safety debate, which should encourage confidence in our building industry – not mass hysteria and widespread changes in the National Construction Code. The STA should lend its support to the position of the Fire Protection Association. The FPA’s position is aligned to the STA’s position. The STA rejects the inclusion of amendment C1.14 relating to ancillary building elements as it extends the NCC review much more widely than the original subject – i.e. combustible cladding – to include textile materials used in the manufacture of awnings, blinds, shade structures and sails, which are conforming and are not claddings. The STA does not want the NCC changed and does not want to see our fabrics and products added to a list of excluded items in the proposed amendment of the NCC.

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FABRICS, FIRE CODES AND STANDARDS Many in the specialised textiles industry are understandably concerned about compliance with new fire safety standards. It would be much easier to allay those fears if all such standards were mandatory, and accepted and enforced on a national basis, reports Chris Arkell.


ecent building fires in Dubai (ironically at a structure called Torch Tower), Docklands in Victoria and, mostly tragically, Grenfell Tower in London have rightly placed a spotlight on building codes, fire testing, product specification, product certification, compliance (materials and construction) and a few other related issues in countries around the world. Questions are being asked, lawyers are lining up and decisionmakers are starting to get nervous. ‘But it’s all about external cladding, isn’t it? What has that got to do with my marquee?’ The answer is ‘standards’ and their interpretation. The introduction of the ABCB 2015 Temporary Structures Standard (TSS) on 26 August 2015 was seen by many as the clarification much needed by their industry in terms of finally having the information in one place. Unfortunately, the adoption of the TSS can be determined by each state or territory and carries the usual disclaimers regarding accuracy, reliability, currency and completeness!

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With authorities in various states now having to read and apply a variety of national codes, standards, state-based acts, regulations, National Construction Code (NCC) state addendums, local council bylaws and even fire authority documents, it is perhaps unsurprising that it is currently legal for the same structure to be used in Perth and Adelaide, but not in another state. Several fabric industry organisations were involved in the stakeholder reference group that assisted with the development

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of the TSS but, given recent reports about an inability to obtain permits based upon an interpretation in Part 4A, 4.1 Fire Resistance (Informative section, not mandatory) by an authority, it would seem they had little to do with the final wording of it. Of course, safety of life (where applicable) must be the primary goal of any official body involved with writing a new standard but, once it has been written and accepted, it’s imperative that it is then made the standard. It must be national, it must be mandatory and it must be written so that it can be read and applied uniformly and consistently. Otherwise it simply cannot be termed a ‘standard’. Nobody is advocating lowering safety standards, just consistent application of the ones already in place.

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL Each section of the 2015 TSS has a Normative and Informative provision. The Normative provision is mandatory to comply with the standard and the Informative is provided as guidance only. Without naming the authority or state involved in currently blocking the use of some temporary structures, the TSS is being interpreted in such a way that fire tests are being requested for every individual colour and colour combination for a specific material type. The word that has been interpreted in this instance is contained within the Informative (i.e. guidance only) Section Part 4A, 4.1 Fire Resistance. The word that has substantial implications for all manufacturers and purchasers of coloured coated fabrics is ‘used’ as in: ‘the material used…’ Multiple owners of coloured structures have been instructed to obtain both AS1530.2 and AS1530.3 certificates (at a cost of approximately $1460) for each colour. Using this interpretation to the extreme, however, this situation could get worse if authorities interpret the directions to mean that the tests be performed upon the actual material from which the structure has been fabricated (also known as ‘batch testing’), which would require owners to retain spare fabric in each colour, as each structure is purchased or, alternatively, remove sections of each colour from each structure.

THE DANGERS OF MAKING COMPLIANCE TOO HARD OR TOO EXPENSIVE Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous operators who can and will cut corners, opting to play the odds in regards to becoming ‘compliant’. Many industries lack any ‘true’ control or authentication of the presented fire certificates to the materials. C Chris Arkell is technical and operations manager at Innova International.

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GALE Pacific FR Fabric Testing

FIRE RESISTANCE TESTING OF COATED FABRICS Now more than ever, the stringent testing of fabrics for their fire resistant and retardant properties is paramount. Andrew Nasarczyk investigates which test standards are used in Australia and explains how the two most common ones are executed.

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ollowing the recent tragedy in Grenfell, London, now more than ever construction materials used around the world are coming under strict scrutiny regarding how effectively they restrict the spread of flame. This has become increasingly relevant for applications in open public spaces such as schools, playgrounds and commercial installations. In the US, Federal regulations are progressively asking that coated fabrics used in such spaces be certified as flame- or fireretardant. It is expected that tighter regulations will also follow in Australia. Within the US market, coated fabrics used in public places are commonly tested to either NFPA701 or CSFM 1237.1. Although most coated fabrics will eventually burn, some are more resistant to fire than others. Those that are more flammable can have their fire resistance (FR) improved by treatment with fire-retardant additives. Other commonly adapted FR test standards applied by European manufacturers include NF P 92, DIN 4102, BS 5867 and EN 13773. The two most commonly adapted FR test standards within Australia for coated fabrics are AS1530.2 and AS/NZS 1530.3.

AS1530.2 TEST AS1530.2 is designed to represent a fixed flame in contact with a curtain or drape. The test specimen is mounted on a vertical support frame. A small flame is used as an ignition source. Either the highest reach point of the flame during the test, or the time for the flame to reach a marked point is determined. The Speed Factor, Spread Factor, Heat Factor and Flammability Index are calculated. Based on the Flammability Index, the material can be deemed to pass or fail to a relevant Australian Building Code – though within the context of most coated fabrics, there is no clear definition of what constitutes a pass or fail. It is important to note that through this test methodology, lightweight fabrics can provide very good Flammability Index data by shrinking away from the flame source – creating misleadingly low ratings.

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AS/NZS1530.3 TEST AS/NZS1530.3 is designed to represent a radiant heater in close proximity to a curtain or drape. A test specimen is mounted vertically and brought in front of a heat source, which is a vertical gas-fired ceramic panel. At definite intervals, the specimen is moved closer to the heat source in a series of graded steps until ignition occurs. During the exposure of the specimen a small gas pilot flame is held in front of the specimen to ignite gasses given off, but not the surface of the specimen. The Ignitability Index (representing the mean time to ignite), the Spread of Flame Index, the Heat Evolved Index and the Smoke Developed Index are calculated. Based on the calculated values, the test material passes or fails the test – as dictated by relevant Building Code specifications. This test standard is a more severe standard for coated fabrics compared to AS1530.2.

AWTA Both AS1530.2 and AS/NZS1530.3 can be tested by the AWTA (, which is based in Melbourne, Australia. As a rough guide, you can expect to pay around $500 (ex GST) to test to AS1530.2 and $900 (ex GST) to test to AS/NZS1530.3. Details on AWTA can be found on its website: C Andrew Nasarczyk is a research and development manager at Gale Pacific Limited,



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FABRIC INNOVATION One of the industry’s greatest weapons in the battle to ensure compliance and fire safety is its ability to continually innovate and produce new fabrics, with groundbreaking qualities and abilities. Here Ron Gottlieb, director at Ricky, investigates what the term means in relation to the fabrics used in the specialised textiles industry.


hat is innovation? While there are many differing ideas to define this term I will suggest that the following may give a good start. Innovation can be the implementation of something new with a commercial reality about it that will bring value to customers. It brings the future closer to all of us! Human nature dictates that we are always searching for improvement. The textiles industry is in no way immune to this. Creativity provides the spark and implementation of the idea provides the innovation. Mills with advanced technical equipment require them to be operated by highly skilled weavers, knitters, laminators and coaters. Behind them are textile chemists and engineers, who are continually striving for improvement in raw materials and methods that will ultimately mean higher quality products. While many of these textile producers have the equipment, the key requirement for innovation is the desire to produce new and exciting fabrics that will fulfil a need and provide a perceived value in the market. The people who have that desire will then work until an initial solution is found. If this desire is not there, then it is more than likely that any new ideas will be based around manufacturing efficiencies or lessening product quality to achieve a desired price. Companies that are truly keen on innovation will rather seek new markets courtesy of a need to help customers achieve growth

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and improvement through new ideas regardless of cost at the development stage. Textile innovation helps us as it allows for the quality of our industry to shine through. In a country that cannot easily compete on the world stage for mass-produced products, there are some brilliant companies producing the highest quality goods. Innovative textiles allow for higher quality bespoke products to be offered, which enables those companies that are willing to change to stand apart from those companies with mass-produced lesser quality items. In the current world climate there is a strong push for anything innovative to be helpful and provide a greater purpose to further the well-being of humanity and the planet. While many textiles and raw materials that make up those textiles are considered to be bad, there are plenty of companies constantly working on ways to improve them. Chemicals are being replaced and newer, cleaner and healthier substitutes are making their way through the supply chain to improve textiles. Improved fibre technology has brought in stronger and lighter yarns, which can then provide stronger and lighter fabrics. These more recent innovations have had an effect on the transport, recreational and sports industries, as well as in the military, to name a few. The importance of textile innovation cannot be stressed enough and two distinct areas stand out – aesthetics and performance.

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While seemingly different requirements, they can often go hand in hand with each other. From a performance view we need to know that the textile will stand up when required; for example, bulletproof nylon, seat belt webbing, tarpaulin fabrics. From an aesthetic view we need to know that the textile will last and still look and perform well many years after installation; for example, external sun control shading fabrics, marine fabrics, printable fabrics. I have given a few examples here, although the lists for both are long and varied. What is particularly interesting is that generally the textile is often only a relatively small percentage of the finished article that is manufactured, but almost always is the most apparent and important when it comes to appearance and performance. Ultimately, it is these results that spur on the people and companies striving for improvements through innovation The textiles of tomorrow are already here today. While some of these may not immediately seem relevant to you, please take a moment to look at the following list where most things are already invented and some are waiting to hit commercial markets. One soon realises that nothing is ‘off limits’ and that the list is virtually endless: ● printable textiles that act as drug delivery systems ● textiles that harness solar energy ● textile bandages to stop bed sores ● conductive textiles that monitor body functions ● recyclable, sustainable and environmentally friendly textiles, and ● energy purposed textiles designed with nanoparticles.

While the above list is an extremely small sampler, it also highlights that unless there is a commerciality to the products using these ideas, then that is all they will remain – great ideas. The innovation is complete by bringing them to market acceptance. Some textile innovations that have led to improved products include: ● car tyres – automotive ● seat belts – automotive ● space suits – aerospace, and ● protective armour – law enforcement and military. The technology and innovation behind these products may seem far removed from you, yet these innovative fibres, yarns and coating systems filter down to tarpaulins, blinds, marine products and just about everything else that our industry produces. Are these products any lesser or are they just as readily providing a solution to problems in different markets? How will textiles evolve tomorrow? What will the fabrics of tomorrow bring? Your guess is as good as mine and your ideas are as good, if not better, than mine. The textiles of tomorrow will no doubt bring further improvement to the lives of all. These textiles will be used in medical, military, energy, water conservation, sport, recreation, advertising and just about any industry segment that you can think of. Innovations in textiles have taken man to the moon and to the deepest depths of the ocean. When you look around your surroundings on a daily basis, you will see that textile innovation is everywhere and the future of our industry is extremely bright. C

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MYTH BUSTING As in most industries there are all sorts of myths and misapprehensions floating around in the specialised textiles industry, especially when it comes to such issues as external fabrics and fire retardancy. Here Jack Ferle busts three of the most potentially damaging to the industry.


hile the current debate surrounding fire regulations in Australia’s National Construction Code (NCC) is welcome, some myths and misconceptions must be dispelled if the changes are to be measured and – above all – attainable. Two devastating fires inspired the current discussion – Grenfell in London and Lacrosse in Victoria – and no one ever wants to see these scenes repeated. The external fabrics industry is foremost among those that want to ensure high safety standards, but we must be cautious and ensure any changes to the code are not knee-jerk overreactions with unintended consequences. The best way to militate against such consequences is to dispel the myths muddying the discourse. When it comes to external fabrics, there are three misconceptions that have the largest potential to cause irreparable harm to the industry:

MYTH NUMBER ONE All external building materials should be non-combustible Simply put, this is an unfeasible fantasy. Short of natural stone, almost every other material will have some level of combustibility. Even when it comes to materials like aluminium composite panels (ACP) and sandwich panels, it is possible to achieve high levels of fire retardancy, but not full non-combustibility.

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MYTH NUMBER TWO Incidental attachments and external walls should be tested against the same benchmarks Again, this is not only impractical; it is impossible. If fabricbased attachments like outdoor shading, awnings, signage and architectural sails have to meet the same regulations as external walls, the fabric industry will cease to exist. It’s as simple as that. Also, consider this: if incidental fabric attachments need to meet the same standards as external walls, will flags also need to meet the same standards? Unless we start carving flags from solid stone, there’ll be a notable absence from all government buildings.

MYTH NUMBER THREE Australia’s AS 1530 test can be passed The key thing to note about the AS 1530 testing is that materials that undergo this test receive a grading, not an indication of whether they ‘passed’ or ‘failed’. Unfortunately, many suppliers claim to have ‘passed’ the test once it has been carried out. Another misconception about AS 1530 is that it is somehow related to the European or International Standards – EN ISO or ASTM classifications, although there is no direct correlation between these tests – despite some suppliers claiming otherwise. The final myth surrounding AS 1530 is that materials that comply with Part Two or Part Three are non-combustible. Only AS 1530 Part One tests

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combustibility, while Part Two tests flammability and Part Three tests ignitability. Ultimately, while more can always be done to further ensure safety in the building industry, any regulatory changes must be based upon reality. Expecting fabrics to meet the same standards as external walls is ill-informed and legislating as such would almost certainly signal the death of the external fabrics industry. Safety is everybody’s priority, but that safety must be achievable. C Jack Ferle is the product and market development manager at Ricky.

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WHERE TO NOW? The National Construction Code amendments were first brought to the attention of the STA by the Serge Ferrari team – which then led to several discussions and research taking place within the STA membership as well as external associations – eventually leading to the lodgement of a formal submission with the Australian Building Codes Board. In this article, Laure Senequier from Serge Ferrari makes some suggestions regarding the industry’s response to the current situation.


echnological advancement and research and development lead the way in textile production and allow buildings to be more sustainable, lightweight, efficient and architecturally pleasing by adding flexibility of shape and form. Architectural textiles are unique in delivering such a combination of opportunities and advantages. Textiles in architecture respond to the growing demands of our industry for faster and more economical builds, while also tackling the continually increasing running costs of a building. In addition to a textile’s properties, the way it’s used and installed will determinate its efficiency and broaden its technical benefits. For example, external blinds can be up to seven times more energy efficient than internal blinds, while maintaining good access to the view and bringing aesthetical values to a building. Yet these benefits are undermined by a general appreciation that materials of more solid forms are perhaps more durable and have better fire behaviour. Recent events like the Melbourne and London fires have prompted calls for swift

and drastic changes to fire regulations and should represent an opportunity for the architectural textile fabric industry to voice the advantages of sustainable, efficient and lightweight products. Architectural fabric products are combustible and fire retardant up to different levels, depending on the product, quality (of the raw materials used and consistency between one product and another etc), applications and needs. Until now, the way an architectural flexible fabric behaves facing fire, as well as the meaning and purpose of the full range of FR (fire retardancy) tests that we can provide to the industry, has widely been misunderstood and therefore architectural textiles are being penalised by blanket rules that call for them all to be non-combustible. Full-scale fire tests can be organised as well as brainstorming meetings in order for us to share information and knowledge and bring the right proofs and comparisons for us to be able to confirm that architectural flexible fabric products are a worldwide proven, efficient, sustainable and secure solution! It would also be interesting to look at fire spread, toxic substances and the dangerous effects a product produces in the event of a fire.

Cladding material that delaminates, produces toxic smoke and/or sends metal panels flying onto pedestrians is obviously dangerous… and questions should be raised whether such solutions are or is not compliant. The same questions should be asked of textiles that burn slowly, while producing toxic fumes and letting the temperature rise to extreme levels in containment. If the industry works together to establish what should or should not be a compliant solution by proving that if a textile does not spread flame, produces minimal smoke, opens up upon contact with a flame to let smoke out (thus reducing the temperature inside the building) and is self-extinguishing, this may be recognised as a coherent alternative to the current solutions available on the market and be compliant. It is the duty of the textile industry to educate government bodies regarding the solutions the industry can provide. For this it is important to ensure policy-makers understand the behaviour of textiles in architecture and organise specific testing and certification methods. Laure Senequier is the Asia-Pacific area manager at Serge Ferrari.

123RF’s Luca Luppi ©

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CLEAR CHOICES? In Shane Beashel’s previous marine trimming article for Connections, he explained how to avoid conflicts arising from unrealistic client expectations. Here, he explores the world of clear trimmings and how to pick the best product for the job.


hen choosing the right clear for your client, there are many types and brands of clear to consider. Sometimes a client has some idea about what they want, but they are often guided by your recommendation. So what do you recommend? Each type of clear has its own and limited application. From PVC (polyvinyl chloride) on a roll or sheet to polycarbonate and even acrylic, the number of products available allows us to choose the most appropriate material for the job. Whether it’s an 18-foot runabout or a 100-foot cruiser, choosing the right product is essential for a number of reasons.

TO ENSURE THE CLEAR FITS THE BRIEF FROM THE CLIENT When discussing the project, the client will often tell you how they use their boat and, if they don’t, it’s essential to ask them things like, ‘Do you take your clears off when you go out or store the boat?’ Or,

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in the case of a spray dodger, ‘Do you fold it down when you race?’ Another consideration would be maintenance. ‘How often can you clean your clears?’ and ‘How do you intend to store them and look after them?’ This would be the first step in narrowing down your choices.

FOR LONGEVITY, STRENGTH, FLEXIBILITY AND FORM The second step would be to determine how you intend to do the job, how you want it to look and how it will function. As professionals, we all want to offer the best product we can that will last for as long as possible and look as good as the day it was installed. A keen eye for detail will determine how longevity can be achieved. Sometimes strength is needed over flexibility, or a complex shape will only form with a more flexible clear. This is a balance that always has compromises, which should be discussed with the client.

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CUSTOMER SATISFACTION To ensure customer satisfaction, once you’ve decided on one or two different clear types, it’s time to discuss the client’s expectations. We have all seen, many times, a great job turn bad and it’s generally because of a lack of information regarding maintenance, or false expectations because the client was a little unsure about what they were getting. Educate yourself and don’t hold back with your knowledge. Your client wants to (and should) know as much as you do about the product they are about to purchase. It’s better to answer questions now than later, when you’ve invested your time on the bench.

limited by their budget. This should not affect your margin or bottom line whatsoever! The old saying ‘built to a budget not a standard’ can have serious consequences for your reputation and business. If a client cannot afford the best product on offer, this is OK, but the cheaper choice must still be appropriate for the job. No client will tell their mates they didn’t want to spend the money, but their mates will always see a substandard product. Make them aware of the compromises and ensure their expectations do not exceed what the product can offer. And remember, if it’s not right for the job, then it’s not for sale. C


Shane Beashel is the co-owner with Jenny Beashal of SB Marine Trimming, established in 2002.

Another major consideration is the profitability within what you are offering. While every client wants the best, they are sometimes

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KK OK! Corie Kotzur has grown his eponymous business by being adaptable, learning as he goes and always doing his best to provide a first rate product. Here he talks to Connie Hellyar about his first quarter of a century in the specialised textiles industry and the lessons received along the way.


otzur Kanvas is celebrating many years of supplying premium products to its customers in the specialised textiles industry. Over nearly two decades, Kotzur Kanvas has established a presence not only in Wagga Wagga, but Australiawide, and is now slowly moving into the overseas market. With that, it has developed a reputation for excellence in quality and service. Corie Kotzur started his business in 2000 after having previously completed his apprenticeship with a local business.

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Opening his own business involved long hours and many sleepless nights, but has clearly been worth all the hard work. “Initially, in the early days, we did a lot of motor trimming and upholstery work,” he says. “We don’t tend to do a lot of this now. Our range of products has increased as demand has been made for them. “Being in the industry for 25 years, I’ve learned a lot about what works and doesn’t from hands-on experience. Not everything was always a success, but I learned to adjust my techniques and have learned more on the job than in any classroom.

“Our current full-time staff members have been at Kotzur Kanvas for an average of over six years, with our longest employee beginning just over 14 years ago.” The team currently comprises: ● one in management ● two for upholstery and trimming for marine, vehicle and furniture ● three for tarpaulins and shade sails ● two for indoor and outdoor blinds ● two for administration/sales, and ● one who covers all design and plotting requirements.

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“The experience they’ve gained while working at Kotzur Kanvas is highly valuable to my business and daily operations, and therefore retention of staff is a key focus area,” says Kotzur. “Locally, it has been difficult to find candidates with existing experience in the industry and therefore most of our training is done in-house by our senior staff and me. “In regards to formal training, being located in a regional town does impose some difficulty with costs to attend courses in Sydney or Melbourne. “In order to carry itself, the industry needs to educate and promote itself to the public. Young people don’t realise this area can be a potential career path. There is demand for good young staff members to come through. “Since the beginning, our local customers have been our main base – supporting local Wagga-based businesses. As we have grown, we have been able to increase capacity to accommodate for larger, more complex projects. That being said, we always have local customers walking in and out of our office booking in their boat covers, or ute canopies etc. “We mainly service the east side of Australia,” he explains, adding that, for the most part, Kotzur is working with larger commercial project companies. “Directly, we currently only have a few overseas customers for small specialised projects. Most of our international projects are procured by subcontracting to companies that complete the installation of our products.” Kotzur’s day-to-day products include: ● blinds – both interior and exterior, including awnings and umbrellas ● trimming and upholstery – marine covers, motor trimming plus tonneaus and canopies, furniture upholstery,

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caravan and camping, including annexes and banners ● shade sails – fabrication of sails for both private and commercial customers, with shade cloth or PVC, and ● transport needs – tarpaulins (both PVC and canvas), side curtains. “We have had many memorable projects; however, my most memorable are always the ones that are unique and require us to think outside the box,” says Kotzur. “My company is often approached by clients who need a solution for their business operations – and it’s up to us to come up with the most efficient solution, while still being cost-effective for our customers. The particularly large commercial projects tend to bring the team together, so we can workshop the best ‘plan of attack’. “Technology now has more and more customers researching through Facebook and Google, so consequently this directly aids in reaching my target audience. I think there is more capacity for technology to keep advancing in this area. We constantly use innovation in technology to support our manufacturing processes, including evolving computerbased design and patterning programs. Technology has come such a long way since starting out in the industry,” he concludes. Kotzur’s reputation for innovation, quality and customer service has been rewarded with the following accolades: ● 2010 Wagga Business Chamber Product and Service Award ● 2009 March ActionCOACH Client Achievement Award for Regional NSW, and ● 2008 Wagga Business Chamber Product and Service Award. C

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Issue Three 2017 CONNECTIONS

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Events STA MEMBERS CHRISTMAS CHEERS SESSIONS FIVE DIFFERENT CITIES AROUND THE COUNTRY Tuesday 28 November Celebrate the year’s end with colleagues and industry mentors. Register to attend at: www. SPECTEX18 THE ESPLANADE HOTEL, FREMANTLE, WA Saturday 26 to Monday 28 May 2018 An Australian trade exhibition and conference bringing together all the specialised textiles industry – fabricators, installers, manufacturers and suppliers. The program will be released in early 2018 and will include: business and social events, as well as a marine fabricators workshop. For further information, go to www.

OFPANZ CONFERENCE 2018 CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL, CHRISTCHURCH NZ Thursday 21 to Saturday 23 June 2018 For further information, contact Amanda on email:

For the latest updated industry events, visit the EVENTS page on the Specialised Textiles Association’s website: au/events





Innova International




Bradmill Outdoor Fabrics




Darling Downs Tarpaulin


Carr Australia


Miami Stainless


Bruce Finlay Sails



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The Shann Group



MA AM9 93 356 6




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An Industry Trade Exhibition and Conference for everyone involved with Fabrics, Components, Equipment and Services For further information contact Ana Drougas on 03 9521 2114 or email 0



13/11/17 3 20 9:41 AM 14/11/17 9:44

STA’s NEW focus on Small Business NEW


NEW $250 low cost membership for micro employers (1-3 employees) and discounted rates to attend SpecTex18 in WA

*New Memberships can start from 1st Jan 2018 and run to 31 March 2019


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NEW FREE Legal, Industrial Relations and Insurance Advice

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Industry Awards category open to small business members only (1-5 employees)

Special offer for ALL STA Members only from Westpac credit card merchant services - $0 Fees and super low 0.1% merchant rate

These new member benefits are immediately available... with nothing more to pay until March 2019 That’s right, join now and receive 15 months’ worth of membership for the price of only 12.*

Join online today by visiting our membership page at or phone Ana on 03 9521 2114 to learn more about STA’s member benefits your business can take up today. 3/11/17 11 53 8/11/17 2:38 PM

Mesh and block out fabrics for internal sunscreen applications are a great way to create mood, change the light and control the climate indoors. The Shann Group is a leading supplier to the window covering industry, offering the Porto and Castille range of block out fabrics as well as N-Vision and S-View internal mesh fabrics. The comprehensive window fabric range from Shann offers treatment solutions to beautifully satisfy residential and commercial choices – from full block out options to mesh fabrics with degrees of openness, cutting down heat transmission and energy consumption, while still allowing natural light to permeate. Contact The Shann Group for further information and to order your sample books, or to enquire about our external range of fabrics and screen.

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Connection: Issue Three, 2017  
Connection: Issue Three, 2017