Bushfire safety – Are you playing with fire?

26 September 2019

Australia has entered bushfire season.

As the days tick by towards summer, those living in bushfire prone areas are encouraged to examine their buildings and see if there are any enhancements that might help them should disaster strike in the months to come.

The Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) measures a building’s potential exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact. It is the basis for establishing what construction action is required under the Australian Standard AS 3959-2009Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas.

There are six BAL levels: Low, BAL 12.5, BAL 19, BAL 29, BAL 40 and BAL FZ

BAL Low deems that there is insufficient risk to warrant specific construction requirements.

BAL 12.5 makes provision for ember attack and does include construction requirements.

BAL 19 relates to increasing levels of ember attack and burning debris ignited by windorne embers, together with increasing heat flux. BAL 29 also addresses this issue on an increasingly serious basis.

BAL 40 addresses the above with increased likelihood of exposure to flames, while BAL FZ relates to those properties that will suffer direct exposure to flames as well as heat flux and ember attack.

If your building is more than 100m from classified vegetation your BAL rating will more than likely be BAL Low.

A couple surveys that damage to their property.

While most people will know if their property is located in a bushfire prone area, it’s important to do your homework on your local area, particularly if you are looking at buying or building a house. Vendors are required to state if land is in a designated Bushfire Prone Area.

In Victoria, you can find out that status of your land by creating a free planning property report on VicPlan, which includes property details, its bushfire prone area status and a map showing the extent of bushfire area relative to the property.