Bushfire construction requirements of the Building Code of Australia

Today, on 8 April 2016, the 4 month transition period for compliance with the bushfire construction requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) expired. The purpose of the transition period was to provide stakeholders sufficient time to take into consideration the effect of the amendments on their planning and building requirements when contemplating future development.

From today, applications for building approval for certain residential buildings in bushfire-prone areas now need to address compliance with the bushfire construction requirements of the BCA. All major alterations and additions to certain residential buildings also need to comply with the bushfire construction requirements of the BCA.

The Building Act 2011 provides that the BCA is the primary applicable building standard for new building work and includes specific bushfire construction requirements for the following classes of residential buildings in bushfire-prone areas:

  • Class 1
  • Class 2
  • Class 3 and
  • Class 10a buildings and decks associated with a Class 1, 2 or 3 building

WA BAL Report can advise you of your requirements now that the bushfire planning and building legislation is in full force and effect. A suitably qualified building surveyor can assist you in determining the building requirements for your proposal.

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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5 thoughts on “Bushfire construction requirements of the Building Code of Australia

  • How does AS 3595 intend to overcome the Building Code of Australia requirements for lighting & ventilation & fire egress?
    What is the point of having a window or door fire rated if it can be left open?
    Unlike fire separation requirements in large & or multilevel construction automated door & shutter closers are not standard & would be prohibitively expensive.
    Surely in a residential environment the proximity of building structures & the fire risk associated with living in those buildings is far greater than the risk from remanent or introduced “bush” vegetation.
    Most people die from being trapped in their homes in a fire
    All the imagery used, such as the photo above, is not typical of a residential landscape.
    Who ever had the pink highlight pen got a little too excited as soon as they saw any vegetation on the map.

    • Hi Phillip,

      Thanks for your great questions on our blog, I thought I would mail you directly in case you miss my reply.

      1. Lighting and ventilation will still be provided through windows and door openings as per normal and can still be borrowed from adjoining rooms if required to comply with BCA 3.8.4 and BCA 3.8.5. Nothing will change here. Although egress is not specifically address in volume 2 of the BCA/class 1 buildings, in class 2 & 3 buildings the BCA requirements (volume 1 – Part D) will still be the same.
      2. Screening of the openable portions of all windows is required in all BALs besides BAL-LOW to prevent the entry of embers to the building when the window is open. Screening of the openable and fixed portions of some windows is required in some BALs to reduce the effects of radiant heat on some types of glass. Windows being left open will not affect the performance of a screen. In higher BAL rated areas shutters are also required if the goal is to reduce heat.
      3. There are now many examples of fire shutters available for domestic applications with BAL ratings to suit. I have just typed “BAL rated fire shutter” into google and had some good results.
      4. I think both adjoining properties and bush fires both pose a risk to dwellings. This has been addressed through BCA 3.7 in regards to fire separation of residential dwellings (generally FRL of 60/60/60 or 900mm setback from a lot boundary). Bush fire risk management requiring compliance with AS3959 has been in the BCA for at least 10 years but it has only been now that areas have been identified on a state-wide scale by the FES commissioner in WA. I also agree that the scale of some fires in a more residential setting do not compare to those which we have seen in events such as Yarloop or the black Saturday fires.
      5. AS3959 has an aim of making a building more resilient to bush fires. No building will ever be guaranteed to be 100% safe. Escape from an electrical fire or similar isn’t within the scope of AS3959. In that case, working hardwired interconnected smoke alarms would be your first warning that there is a fire.
      6. Thanks for the feedback. We have taken some really good photos today on a trip to Yarloop which we will try to incorporate into our coming blogs.
      7. The binary map was created much like you say, by computers. It was then up to people to go through and adjust it. It is planned for the map to be updated on a yearly basis (1st of May in line with the BCA). This year’s update will be in May but the date hasn’t been decided yet.

      Can I ask how you found our blog?

      Please let me know if you have any more questions, I’m more than happy to help out.

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