Building reforms for bushfire-prone areas

On 6 December 2015, the WA State Government implemented building reforms for new homes in bushfire areas of the state, with the goal of saving lives and protecting property. A cross governmental response implemented with the support of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), Building Commission, WA Planning Commission and Department of Planning, the reforms affect building and planning requirements for new homes built in bushfire-prone areas.

The reforms will be subject to a four-month transition period, applying to building permits issued from 8 April, 2016, and will not operate retrospectively.

Map of bushfire-prone areas

The reforms focus on a map of bushfire-prone areas across WA, prepared by DFES and updated yearly, which identifies areas where new homes will require a bushfire hazard assessment. The bushfire hazard assessment will then determine the level of construction standards for bushfire resistance required, in order to be compliant with the Building Code of Australia and the Australian Standards AS3959.

The map is available at:


Developments located within ‘Special Control Areas’, comprised of the five local governments of the City of Armadale, City of Busselton, City of Cockburn, Shire of Mundaring and Shire of Kalamunda may need to meet additional planning and building requirements.

The What do I need to do? assistance tool

To assist the public in identifying the measures required to comply with the bushfire planning reforms, the Department of Planning will release the What do I need to do? assistance tool after gazettal on Monday 7 December 2015. The tool, which consists of an interactive questionnaire, will provide guidance on what assessment requirements apply and advise if any planning approval is likely to be required.

Exemptions and approvals

There are some exemptions to BAL assessments available in some circumstances, such as where the new development is a single house on a lot less than 1,100m2. Planning approvals would be required for habitable or specified buildings with a BAL rating of BAL-40 or BAL-Flame Zone, even if they would otherwise be exempt under the Local Planning Scheme Regulations. It is strongly advised that a Level 1 BAL Assessor or an accredited Bushfire Planning Practitioner be used to undertake a BAL assessment.

For more information

The team at WA BAL Report are experts at conducting bushfire hazard assessments and bushfire prevention in general. For more information, contact our friendly staff on 08 6114 9356 or at admin@wabalreport.com.au


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