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Bushfire Prone Areas

The Building Regulations 2018, gives the Minister for Planning the authority to determine and declare specific areas throughout Victoria as Designated Bushfire Prone Areas for the purposes of the building control system

The Building Code of Australia 2016 Part 3.7 and Australian Standards AS 3959 2009 provides details of the specialised building methods and components needed to construct a building in a Bushfire Prone Area. The methods and components are designed to reduce a buildings susceptibility to ember attack during a bushfire, they do not provide protection from a fire front.

These measures do not guarantee your building will not burn, but do provide some protection against ember attack provided an ongoing maintenance and inspection regime is also undertaken.

Building in a designated bushfire prone area will add to the cost of the construction depending on the level of protection required. The categories of Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) identified by the standard are:

  • Low
  • 12.5
  • 19
  • 29
  • 40
  • Fire Zone (FZ)

An assessment on the property under the Australian Standard, AS 3959-2009, “Construction of buildings in Bushfire Attack areas” will be required to determine the BAL.

This assessment can be obtained by contacting a Consultant with the necessary skills and understanding to apply the relevant requirements of the Building Regulations, Building Code of Australia, AS 3959: Construction in Bushfire Prone Areas and Planning and Environment Act 1987.

Alternatively, the BAL assessment may be carried out by the Owner / Applicant subject to the Relevant Building Surveyor for the project being satisfied that the BAL is correct and prepared to accept the self assessment.

Parts of the building that will require special treatment are:

  • Flooring systems
  • Supporting Posts, Columns, Piers and Poles
  • External Walls
  • Windows
  • External Doors
  • Vents and Weep Holes
  • Roof Covering, Eaves and Fascias
  • Roof Lights
  • Roof Ventilators
  • Roof Mounted Evaporative Cooling Units
  • Gutters and Downpipes
  • Service Pipes (water and gas)
  • Verandahs and Decks

If a building is to be constructed in a designated bushfire prone area and the bushfire attack level for the site is determined as LOW by the relevant building surveyor, the building must be constructed to the standard applicable to a bushfire attack level of 12.5 set out in Section 5 of AS 3959 Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas”.

This will provide some level of ember protection as recommended by the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission as ember attack is the predominant bushfire attack mechanism and most houses that are burnt in a bushfire are from ember attack.

The new regulations also retain the integration of the planning and building system introduced in March 2010 by continuing the requirement for building surveyors to accept a BAL assessment obtained in the planning system.

All protective measures require ongoing maintenance to ensure they perform at their optimum level. Maintenance of the area surrounding your property is also important, reducing the combustible materials to improve the effectiveness of your protection against ember attack.

For further information, please refer to the website external links listed below.

Designated bushfire prone area information on regulations and Designated bushfire prone area maps have been prepared and are available online through the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure Development's website Building Regulations to improve bushfire safety

To see if your property is in a Bushfire Prone Area, a Bushfire Prone Area Property Report is available free of charge to the public online through the Land Channel website Bushfire Prone Area Report

Further information can also be obtained at the Victorian Building Authority's website Bushfire Information

For information also on Private Bushfire Shelters / Bunkers, please refer to our website page Bushfire Shelters Bunkers

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