BUSHFIRE ATTACK LEVEL (BAL) ASSESSORS

WA Bushfire Accreditation Framework

The WA State Government has announced that it is developing a professional bushfire consultant industry with the creation of an accreditation framework, the Western Australian Bushfire Accreditation Framework.

Under the Framework, organisations can apply to offer an accreditation scheme for Level 1 BAL Assessors. The same scheme is planned to be implemented for Level 2 and Level 3 Bushfire Planning Practitioners at a later date.

Accreditation bodies

To be recognised by the State Government as an accrediting body, an organisation will be required to:

  • Provide an accreditation scheme and training course for Level 1 BAL Assessors;
  • Provide a listing of accredited Level 1 BAL Assessors;
  • Require accredited Level 1 BAL Assessors to comply with a Code of Professional Conduct; and
  • Investigate and deal with complaints, grievances and breaches in relation to their accredited Level 1 BAL Assessors.

The Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) is the first organisation to be recognised by the State Government as an accredited body. It will commence training courses for Level 1 BAL Assessors in September 2015.

Accreditation courses

Accreditation as a Level 1 BAL Assessor can be obtained through completion of the Level 1 BAL Assessor course and Recognition of Prior Learning for those with relevant experience. There is also a subsidy program in place for local government employees, implemented by the State Government.

Accredited Level 1 BAL Assessors are accredited and trained to:

  • Determine the appropriate BAL using Method 1 (simplified method) of Australian Standard (AS) 3959 as referenced by the Building Code of Australia (BCA); and
  • Provide general advice on the design and construction requirements of AS 3959.

Preference for accredited practitioners to assess bushfire-prone areas

The Fire and Emergency Services Amendment Bill 2015, if enacted by Parliament, would provide the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner with the power to designate areas of the state as bushfire-prone. These bushfire-prone areas will then require a BAL assessment.

The policy and guidelines for Planning in Bushfire-Prone Areas will strongly recommended that the assessments are undertaken by accredited practitioners.

Building Process

A BAL assessment will be required for assessment by a building surveyor in relation to Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 buildings and associated Class 10a buildings or decks.

Four month transition period

The planning regulations will allow for a four month transition period before BAL assessment requirements have to be met in relation to obtaining development approval and construction in BAL-40 and BAL-Flame Zone areas.

Applying for the accreditation scheme

Organisations wishing to offer an accreditation scheme for Level 1 BAL Assessors can apply at planning.wa.gov.au

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