Are you aware of the bushfire attack level of your property, or the property you are considering purchasing? Councils throughout NSW are required to publish maps that show areas of land that are classified as a ‘bushfire prone area’. These maps are available on Council websites.
If your property is in a bushfire prone area, this will also be recorded on the section 149 certificate. However, neither the maps nor the section 149 certificate indicate the ‘bushfire attack level’ or BAL of the property. The BAL can have implications for building and renovating, and a high rating can significantly increase the cost of the building works.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) publication Planning for Bushfire Protection (PBP), applies to all development applications on land that is classified as “bush fire prone land”.
All Development Applications on bush fire prone land need to:
- Include a bush fire assessment report with the statement of Environmental Effects
- Demonstrate to the RFS or consent authority that the proposal satisfies the broad aim and objectives of PBP
- Residential/ rural residential subdivision and ‘special fire protection purporses’ proposal have additional compliance requirements and performance criteria
- Meet the planning requirements of the PBP as well as any bush fire construction requirements under the Building Code of Australia (BCA)
There are 5 categories of Bushfire Attack Levels (BAL) based on heat flux exposure thresholds:
|Category:||Risk Level:||Construction requirements:||Approval:|
|BAL – LOW||There is insufficient risk to warrant specific construction requirements||No construction requirements||Consent authority|
|BAL – 12.5||Ember attack||Set out in sections 3 and 5 of AS3959||Consent authority|
|BAL – 19||Increasing levels of ember attack and burning debris ignited by windborne embers together with increasing heat flux||Set out in sections 3 and 6 of AS3959||Consent authority|
|BAL – 29||Increasing levels of ember attack and burning debris ignited by windborne embers together with increasing heat flux||Set out in sections 3 and 7 of AS3959||Consent authority|
|BAL – 40||Increasing levels of ember attack and burning debris ignited by windborne embers together with increasing heat flux with increased likelihood of exposure to flames||Set out in sections 3 and 8 of AS3959||Must be referred to RFS for review|
|BAL FZ (Fire Zone)||Direct exposure to flames from front in additional to heat flux and ember attack||Set out in sections 3 and 9of AS3959||Must be referred to RFS for review|
Complying development is permitted on bush fire prone land for the lower risk bush fire attack levels (12.5,19 and 29) subject to meeting the development standards complying with Planning for Bush Fire Protection. However, any development with a BAL level of 40 or FZ (Fire Zone) must be referred to the Rural Fire Service for review.
For further information general information, you can follow the links below, however if you would like advice on how your property may be affected, call our office for an appointment.
Australian Standard 3959
AS 3959 sets out the detailed requirements for construction of building in bushfire-prone areas: http://law.resource.org/pub/au/ibr/as.3959.2009.pdf
Bush Fire Prone Areas: