On 14 August 2015, the Department of Planning, the Office of Bushfire Risk Management (OBRM) and the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) held an Information Session to provide an update on bushfire reforms and information on the first Level 1 Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Assessors’ accrediting body and training courses.
Bushfire Reform Updates
State Planning Policy 3.7
The Information Session covered State Planning Policy (SPP) 3.7, a policy that deals with bushfire planning and applies to all land designated as bushfire-prone. The SPP elevates bushfires to the highest planning policy available, encourages a precautionary approach and requires a BAL assessment to be submitted with subdivision. It also discourages subdivision and intensification in extreme areas.
Under the SPP, the supremacy of life is the key principle.
Bushfire Guidelines set out how the State Map will work. The State Map identifies the areas of WA that are designated as subject to, or likely to be subject to, bushfire attack. Where developments are impacted by bushfire-prone areas, a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Assessment will be required under planning regulations.
The State Map will be reviewed annually and amended by consultation. It can be accessed at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website.
Accreditation and Training
The SPP strongly encourages the use of accredited Level 1 BAL assessors to undertake BAL Reports.
The FPA Australia is the national peak body for fire safety, and is the first accrediting body for Level 1 BAL Assessors. Level 1 BAL Assessors are accredited to undertake BAL assessments using Method 1 of Australian Standard AS 3959 and provide general advice on design and construction requirements under AS 3959.
Although accreditation is currently only available for Level 1, the framework is being updated to provide for Levels 2 and 3.
Bushfire Planning and Development Accreditation Scheme
FPA Australia have developed and administer the Bushfire Planning and Design Accreditation Scheme (BPAD Scheme). The BPAD Scheme recognises practitioners who can assist the community undertaking development on land subject to bushfire impact.
It adopts a national framework approach, which has been customised for local jurisdictions, and accredits practitioners who provide bushfire assessment, planning, design and advice services. There are 3 levels of BPAD, corresponding with the practitioner’s level of expertise.
The key components of the accredited BPAD practitioner are:
- Skills, knowledge and experience in relation to the factors affecting bushfire behaviour, vegetation, site assessment, legislative and policy framework, mechanisms for bushfire attack and bushfire resistant construction;
- Conditions of accreditation;
- Quality assurance;
- Code of Professional Conduct, which prescribes the principles, standards of behaviour and service delivery requirements to be complied with by practitioners;
- Continuing Professional Development, which includes at least one mandatory FPA Australia professional development session each year; and
- Insurance, in terms of both Public and Product Liability Insurance, and Professional Indemnity Insurance.
The benefits to the community of accreditation include:
- Increased safety and reliability as a result of professional assessment and determination of appropriate mitigation measures;
- Provision of effective, professional and consistent advice for land-use planning and building decision processes;
- Improved planning and building approval process based on reports and advice of accredited professionals;
- Confidence that planning and building applications are compliant; and
- Community confidence of the Accredited Practitioner’s competence and insurance coverage.
For more information
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