Recently I came upon some information sent to me a few years ago by Greg Hooper of FireShield Australia. I had asked him if he could give me the the scoop on flame retardancy regulations in Australia. I am obviously quite familiar with FR regulations in the United States, and I also have a smattering of knowledge regarding European requirements, but I knew almost nothing about Australian requirements.
Flame retardancy of hanging fabric (drapes and curtains) is covered by two standards of the Australian Building Code. Standard AS 1530.3 covers curtains and drapes that are actually hung (such as on curtain track or a pipe batten). If a curtain or drape is attached to the wall (such as stapled to the wall), it is considered a wall fixture and would be covered by ISO 9705.
Regardless of whether a curtain or drape is certified flame retardant in another country (such as the United States), in order to be used in Australia, it must be tested to the Australian standard by a laboratory that has been accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities of Australia (NATA). There are a couple of ways that this can be done. The first option is to contract directly with a testing laboratory (such as AWTA) for testing. This will cost around $650 US ($720 AUS) per fabric. A total of 10 samples, each 24″ x 18″, are required. The average turnaround is two weeks, with results faxed and mailed to the customer.
The second option is to contract with a flameproofing company in Australia. If it is a type of fabric that they have previously treated and had tested, the flameproofing company may already have lab test results on file; otherwise they will treat the sample(s) and arrange for lab testing. The cost using a flameproofing company will vary, depending on services rendered, but obviously, if the flameproofing company has to send the samples to a testing lab, the cost will include the lab test fees plus the fees from the flameproofing company. The process may also be a little different if the fabric is inherently / permanently flame retardant; if a chemical flame retardant treatment has not been used, I am not sure if a flameproofing company (which specializes in topical treatment) can assist or if you would need to go directly to the lab for testing.
Certainly some things to think about if you are taking the tour to Australia…