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Russell Shephard

Our birthday Standards Heroes have been nominated by their peers to represent all our contributors - individuals we consider to be the real heroes of standards, in Australia and internationally. We thank those who contribute their knowledge and expertise, service, and time to Standards Australia for the benefit of the Australian community.  

Russell Shephard has an extensive history working with the ACT Fire Service and ACT Emergency Services Agency. For over 25 years, he has been working with the development and revision of Australian and International Standards for firefighters and Emergency Services Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Russell sits on a number of Standards Australia committees, chairing SF-052 Personal Safety – Personal Protective Equipment and SF-053 Protective Clothing. Russel works as Manager Standards at the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council.      

How did you become involved in standards development? 

I first became involved in Standards when I was asked by the United Firefighters Union to represent Australian firefighters.  

The first Standards that I worked on were the development of a AS/NZS 4067, Structural Firefighting Helmet, and AS/NZS 1801, Occupational Protective Helmets, (within this Standard a provision was made for the inclusion of a Type 3 Bushfire Helmet).  In addition, I was asked to represent the firefighters in the development of the first Australian Standard AS 4967, Protective clothing for firefighters— Requirements and test methods for protective clothing used for structural firefighting. This Standard was published in 2001 and was developed based on an International Standard ISO 11613:1999.  

What role have standards played in your career?   

Standards, in particular the connection between Standards and the health and safety of firefighters consumed my life as a young firefighter and as a union representative, with a special focus on personal protective equipment (PPE).  

I was soon recognised as a person with a passion for improving firefighters PPE and a way of doing this was through the development of standards and assisting fire agencies with the development of PPE specifications.  I was soon asked to participate in several Standards committees, not all relating directly to firefighters, some of these I have had the opportunity to lead as Chair.

What is a project you’ve been particularly proud to have helped deliver? 

I have worked on many projects participating on Standards committees over the last 30 years, however, I must say that the most important project I have been responsible for as Chair of ISO TC94/SC14 is the development of ISO 23616: 2022, Cleaning, inspection and repair of firefighters personal protective equipment.  The purpose of this document is to provide the requirements, guidance and recommendations regarding the cleaning, inspection, and repair of firefighters' PPE and establish criteria for its cleaning, inspection, and repair. This document has been developed in response to growing concerns about contaminated PPE and potential health hazards for firefighters. Fire and Rescue Services, and the manufacturers of PPE, want to provide Instructions and guidance to effectively minimize and manage this risk.

Outside of standards development, what have been some highlights of your career? 

It is difficult to identify highlights that are not in some way linked to standards as my entire working life, starting as a young volunteer firefighter at the age of 17, Standards and health and safety have been at the forefront.  I would like to mention the following:  

  • On the 26th of January 2008, I was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) by the Governor General on behalf of the Queen, for distinguished service to the fire industry in the area of health and safety.
  • In April 2015 I was advised that I had been nominated for the Standards Australia prestigious award, the W.R. Hebblewhite Medal, and that I was the successful winner of that award.

What do you think the future of standardisation looks like? 

It is my belief that Standards will continue to play a major role in our everyday lives, from the guidance it provides in relation to PPE, as has been seen during the pandemic with the development and compliance of face masks.  

The development of measures that will assist with addressing climate change and working with key stakeholders regarding the building and construction industry.  All of these and many other issues need to be on the agenda in the future, however, a greater discussion also needs to occur regarding compliance issues and how many Standards that are currently not references in legislation can be included.

Is there anything you’d like to say or mention about Standards Australia’s centenary year? 

When it comes to Standards Australia, I can only say congratulations, what an achievement and to all those who I have interacted with over many years, a big thank you as if it was not for you and the support you have given me and my industry over many years, we would not be as successful as we are today in protecting the community, If it was not for you I would not have been able to improve firefighters safety.