Is Your Block Bush Fire Prone? Do You Know What Your BAL Rating is?

by Del Casa Homes
Hits: 2606

These are difficult site issues which your real estate agent may not have been aware of or neglected to mention them!

Request a bush fire prone free site inspection

Did you know government legislation has changed?

In response to the devastating loss of life and property due to bush fires,  legislation was introduced to provide guidelines helping to reduce the effects of bushfire through careful  planning of building design, construction and maintenance in bush fire prone areas.

So what does this mean for those who want to build a new home?

It means new homes being built in areas identified as being bushfire prone, are subject to the development and planning controls of Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006 and must be designed to improve the survivability of property and the occupants that are exposed to a bush fire hazard. The Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006 is used to asses a site’s bush fire attack level (BAL) to determine what materials should be used as set out in Australian Standard: 3959 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas 2009 (AS3959).

What’s a Bush Fire Attack level (BAL)?

 A bush fire attack level rates the risk your proposed home may have to bush fire attack.

It takes into account what region or where your site is, what type of vegetation is around your site, how close your home will be to the vegetation as well as the slope of your site.

There are six different BAL levels:

  • BAL-LOW is given when the risk of bush fire attack is low. There are no specific construction requirements for this BAL.
  • BAL-12.5 indicates there is a significant risk of bush fire attack by burning debirs but radiant heat is unlikely to threaten the building itself. Specific construction requirements for ember protection and accumulation of debris is applicable.
  • BAL-19 is given to a site that has significant risk of attack by burning debris and increased radiant heat levels, likely to threaten some of the buildings materials. Specific construction requirements for protection against embers and radiant heat levels are applicable.
  • BAL-29 means the buildings structure may be threatened with attack by burning debris and increased radiant heat levels. specific construction requirements for protections against embers and higher radiant heat levels are applicable
  • BAL-40 is given when the building is at an increased risk of attack from burning debris, with significant radiant heat and the potential for flame contact. Buildings must be designed and constructed in a manner that can withstand the extreme heat and potential flame contact.
  • Flame Zone, this is the most severe of ratings. Construction in the zone requires special protection measures such as drenching systems and radiant heat barriers as there is significant risk to residents and the building.

What are the construction requirements for homes built in bushfire prone areas?

The requirements will depend on the BAL of the site and will cover materials or construction methods that can be used to protect your home against embers and radiant heat. Some requirements could be:

  • minimum requirements of joints and walls, including the materials they are made from and the thickness.
  •  use of shutters or screens (to stop embers getting inside the house) as well as the type of windows and doors used.
  • window glazing
  • use of non-combustible roofing material and gutter guards.
  • the protection of exposed water and gas pipes and what material they need to be made from.

Need some more information! Try these useful links;

Building in a Bush Fire area

Frequently Asked Questions

Del Casa has many years of experience building homes in bush fire prone areas. We work closely with a team of professional consultants and can take you through the process, making sure your new home meets it’s BAL requirements.

Request a bush fire prone free site inspection