How to avoid your house catching fire – implement a Building Protection Zone

WA BAL Report are committed to preventing property damage and loss of life caused by bushfires. WA BAL Report recommends you have a BAL Assessment Report conducted of your property if you live in a bushfire-prone area. This will determine your BAL Rating and help you figure out the building requirements needed to be complied with to protect your property from bushfires.

WA BAL Report also wishes to provide clients with information about the nature and behaviour of bushfires generally, with the intention of educating people to be more bushfire wise. Did you know that there are three ways in which bushfire attacks property:

  • Direct flame contact – this commonly occurs where houses are situated close to a fire hazard
  • Radiant heat – this is the energy emitted from the fire and attacks buildings by heating and igniting flammable objects. Windows are particularly vulnerable to radiant heat
  • Ember attack – this occurs before, during and after a fire front passes. Embers such as burning bark are carried by the wind and dropped away from the main fire front. The embers can land in areas of vegetation or in the garden, next to leaf litter, under or in the gutters of the house and on wooden decks. This can lead to spot fires which, if not extinguished, can completely engulf the house. Ember attack is the cause of nearly all structural damage caused by a bushfire.

There are a number of things you can do to increase the protection of your home from bushfire threat. One important measure is to provide your property with a Building Protection Zone (BPZ). A BPZ is a buffer zone between a bushfire hazard and a building. In this zone, fuel loads are minimised, reducing the potential radiant heat levels, flame, ember and smoke attack. An adequate BPZ should also allow sufficient space and safety for firefighters and other emergency services to perform their bushfire suppression activities. A BPZ is essential in increasing the chance of survival under bushfire attack.

Within the BPZ, you should ensure that tree crowns are a minimum of 10 metres apart, trees are skirted or pruned up to a height of 2 metres, no tree is located within 2 metres of a building, tree branches do not overhang the building, there is a gap of at least 3 times the height (at maturity) of the shrub away from the building, shrubs are not planted in clumps, lawns are kept short and green and fences and sheds are constructed using non-combustible materials and are not located in the BPZ.

Managing and reducing fuel loads for a minimum of 20 metres around a building will increase its chances of survival from a bushfire.

An effective BPZ, combined with routine maintenance of the property, constructing or retrofitting your home to meet the Australian Standard (AS) 3959 – Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas, and addressing bushfire risks in accordance with the Planning for Bushfire Risk Management Guidelines will ensure your house has the best possible protection from bushfires. WA BAL Report can assist in formulating the ideal strategy for bushfire prevention, including ensuring your property is compliant with AS 3959.

For more information

WA BAL Report are accredited Level 1 BAL Assessors and are experts at conducting Bushfire Attack Level Assessment Reports and bushfire prevention in general in Perth and Western Australia. For more information, contact our friendly staff on 08 6114 9356 or at admin@wabalreport.com.au.

Thank you for visiting www.wabalreport.com.au

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