Bushfire Prone Areas

What is a bushfire prone area?

Bush fire prone areas are areas identified to be subject to, or likely subject to, bushfire attack.

It is recognised by the presence of, and proximity to, bush fire prone vegetation, and includes both the area containing the bush fire prone vegetation and a 100m buffer zone immediately surrounding it.

Bushfire prone areas in Western Australia are designated by the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner and are identified on the Map of Bushfire Prone Areas.

Bushfire Attack Level (BAL)

Bushfire Attach Level (BAL) is a means of measuring the severity of a building’s potential exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact. It’s measured in increments of radiant heat (expressed in kilowatts/m2). BALs help to determine the appropriate bushfire construction requirements.

The Building Act 2011, Building Regulations 2012 and the Building Code of Australia (BCA) outline the building standards for all buildings and incidental structures in Western Australia. The BCA sets out the minimum construction requirements for all classes of buildings, and includes specific requirements for residential buildings in bushfire prone areas.

BAL assessment

Australian Standard AS3959 – 2009 - Construction of Buildings in Bushfire-Prone Areas provides an assessment method for assigning a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) for a site.

A BAL assessment is site specific which takes into consideration a number of factors:

  • Types of surrounding vegetation.
  • Distance of the building to that vegetation.
  • Slope of the land.

BAL assessments are required to be carried out to establish a BAL level and is required to support a Building Permit application.

Once assessed, your site/property/asset will be defined one of six BAL ratings, as set out in AS 3959-2009:

  • BAL-Low – very low risk (bushfire resistant construction not required)
  • BAL-12.5 – low risk
  • BAL-19 – moderate risk
  • BAL-29 – high risk
  • BAL-40 – very high risk
  • BAL-FZ – extreme risk (Flame Zone).

To find an accredited BAL Assessor within your area visit the Fire Protection Association Australia website.

Buildings that must comply with bushfire regulations

The Building Code of Australia bushfire construction requirements apply to the following classes of residential building located within designated bushfire prone area:

  • Class 1 – Single dwellings: bed and breakfast, hostels, guest houses or similar
  • Class 2 – A building containing two or more sole-occupancy units, each being a separate dwelling (e.g. apartments, flats or similar)
  • Class 3 – A residential building (other than a Class 1 or Class 2 building) such as hotels, accommodation for aged, children or people with disabilities or similar
  • Class 10a buildings and decks associated with Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 buildings. Class 10a buildings include non-habitable buildings such as carports, sheds, garages or similar (only required for 10a buildings if within 6m from a dwelling).

More information and contacts

For more information please contact us.

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