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Building in a bushfire zone – what you need to know

With summer approaching we look forward to backyard barbeques and celebrating the Christmas break with friends and family, but unfortunately being prepared for bushfire is also necessary in many parts of Australia.

When building a new home, understanding bushfire level risk and building regulations in the area is vital.

Australian Standards AS 3959 classify a range of bushfire intensity levels that may be experienced by a home in bushfire prone areas, also referred to as Bushfire Attack Levels (BAL). BAL’s around homes are determined by the region, the vegetation surrounding the property, the distance of the home to certain vegetation types, and the slope of the property. The six BAL’s are comprised of;

  • BAL Low
  • BAL 12.5
  • BAL 19
  • BAL 29
  • BAL 40
  • BAL Flame Zone

 

Home owners can use an online calculator to help them gain an initial idea of their properties’ bushfire risk here. Online tools such as this one provide an indication only and home owners are urged to seek advice from qualified professionals such as an engineer or building surveyor.

Knowing the BAL of an area before building can assist home owners in building a house prepared for bushfire season, with prevention often being the best defence. Note that all building approvals issued in designated bushfire prone zones MUST build to BAL 12.5 standards as a minimum, even if the site specific BAL assessment is LOW. If it is above BAL 12.5 then the building must be treated in line with the specific BAL range that it falls into.

Working with expert builders is the best way for home owners to ensure they are meeting specific bushfire safety requirements in their area, as these requirements vary state by state. Requirements may include allowing for road access for emergency vehicles, or development of a bushfire protection zone – a minimum of a 20m perimeter around the home free from flammable vegetation.

A professional builder will be able to advise on the ideal positioning of the home as well as what materials will best suit the needs of the area. Builders will strategically choose adequate materials such as steel frames, concrete slabs, fire rated doors and windows, appropriate roofing, gutter guards, and water tanks. Insulation products such as CSR Bradford’s FireSeal range can also be appropriate for homes needing to comply with BAL (Bushfire Alert Level) requirements to minimise risk from ember attack.

Hebel products for walling and flooring are consistently chosen by builders for their exceptional fire resistance properties. All Hebel products meet or exceed the requirements for all BAL categories listed above. For more information on using Hebel products in bushfire prone areas, visit http://bit.ly/2h7H17e.

To find a professional builder that can assist in developing a bushfire-safe home, head to: http://hebel.com.au/contact.

 

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