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Bushfire Bunkers (Private Bushfire Shelters)

The Planning amendment VC76 exempts a Private Bushfire Shelter up to 30m2 from requiring a Planning Permit although under the Building (Private Bushfire Shelter Construction) Regulations 2018 they will still require a Building Permit.

These regulations mean that a Building Permit must be obtained for Private Bushfire Shelters (bushfire bunkers) prior to construction. Private Bushfire Shelters have to comply with the performance requirements set out in the regulations including safe accessing, exiting the shelter and maintaining tenable conditions within the shelter for the period of occupancy.

There is no legal requirement to build a Private Bushfire Shelter. It is a matter of personal choice as to whether people want to construct a Private Bushfire Shelter as part of their bushfire survival plan.

To obtain a building permit under the new system you either need to:

  • Purchase a shelter which has been accredited as meeting the performance requirements in the regulations by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) - refer to the External Web Links below;
  • Apply to the Building Appeals Board (BAB) for a determination that your non-accredited bushfire shelter complies with the regulations; or
  • Obtain an Engineers Certification from a Register Fire Safety Engineer who did not design the shelter to satisfy a Building Surveyor that your non-accredited bushfire shelter meets the requirements of the regulations.

Be aware that some manufacturers may continue to advertise and sell unaccredited Private Bushfire Shelters and may either misrepresent their products or promote a bushfire bunker as safe storage room or as a wine cellar. Attempting to use any other buildings or a non-accredited bushfire shelter / bunker will remain a high risk action and may need a Planning Permit.

If a consumer feels a supplier has misrepresented a bushfire bunker product they can call Consumer Affairs Victoria for advice on 1300 558 181.

For any further information on approved Private Bushfire Shelters, please visit the Victorian Building Authority or call 1300 815 127. Alternatively you can contact our Building department on 9298 8125.

Note that in bushfire conditions, services and equipment such as electricity, phone, radio, water, pumps and sewerage usually become inoperable. It is important that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified Building Practitioner prior to purchasing or constructing a private bushfire shelter, or modifying an existing building to be used as a Private Bushfire Shelter.

We urge you to consider your options carefully and to view a Private Bushfire Shelter as a part of your overall bushfire survival plan, rather than a simple solution. You also need to consider whether you and your family are psychologically ready to stay in the Private Bushfire Shelter during a fire.

A private bushfire shelter is an option of last resort where individuals can take refuge during a bushfire while the fire front passes. CFA recommends that you continue to heed the new warning systems and leave early. You should also continue the preparation of your property before each fire season utilising the CFA’s Plan and Prepare pages.

Need Help?

If you have questions, you can contact us on 9298 8125 or alternatively, you can lodge a request below and a staff member will get back to you.

Contact Building Services

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