Building in a Bush Fire Prone Area
It is the purpose of the bushfire prone declaration to improve the level of protection of life and property in the event of a bushfire. This will be achieved by ensuring that all new buildings are constructed to a standard that will reduce the risk of ignition from any bushfire that may occur in the area. A BAL (Bushfire Attack Level) assessment will be required to determine the level of fire intensity that may impact on the building and the level of construction will be dependent upon this assessment. The assessment is based upon vegetation type, density and proximity to property.
Where buildings are assessed as BAL ‘low’ there are no specific construction requirements under the standard at this time. Any buildings that are assessed as having a BAL above low will be required to meet the construction requirements of Australia Standard 3959. Construction requirements can range from prevention of ember attack through to withstanding a high heat flux and burning debris.
It is recommended that you discuss the relevant AS3959 requirements with your builder, architect or designer. You can also purchase a copy of AS3959 by clicking on this link. The City of Albany also has a copy available for viewing at the Library and at the North Road administration building.
In December 2015, the WA Planning Commission announced the publication of key bushfire related land use documents. The documents will include State Planning Policy No. 3.7: Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas (SPP 3.7.). For further information, please refer to the Department of Planning website www.dplh.wa.gov.au for guidelines on what is required, including information on Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Assessments. An interactive map of designated ‘bush fire prone areas’ is available for searching on the DFES website www.dfes.wa.gov.au.
There are a number of private consultants who have a considerable amount of recognised experience in this field who undertake BAL assessments. Bush fire management consultants are not yet recognised by a government body therefore there is currently no specific criteria or qualifications for a bushfire specialist.
Each proposal will be assessed by the City of Albany on its merits and we recommend that you seek support from an experienced consultant in the preparation of BAL site specific requirements.
Further information is available by clicking on this link from the WA Planning Commission website.