17 January 2020
With the recent tragic bushfire events across Australia and predictions of similar conditions into the future, it’s never been more important to understand the requirements of building in bushfire prone areas.
In Queensland, a significant portion of the state sits within low, medium, high, or very high bushfire zone prone area and with the increased scrutiny the bushfire disasters are bound to bring, you must be aware of the requirements when building in these areas.
Understanding and getting these requirements right upfront will ensure you aren’t faced with any financial surprises down the track when you reach certification stage and assist you to answer the questions concerned customers are sure to start asking when they start building their new home or renovation.
Luckily in Queensland, requirements have been in place for many years and the requirements are robust. Intensive State mapping has been undertaken to determine the bushfire prone areas. Local Governments must reflect the mapping in their local planning schemes. The mapping, known as a bushfire overlay, will trigger a bushfire management plan when applying to develop or build on the land. In addition, buildings and structures must comply with the National Construction Code.
The guideline on how we build in bushfire prone areas is outline within the Australian Standard (AS) 3959 – 2018: Construction of building in bushfire-prone areas. Unlike other states, Queensland has adopted a single Fire Danger Index value for all of Queensland (40).
Fire Danger Index value is determined by the chance of a fire starting, its rate of spread, its intensity and the difficulty of its suppression. It also includes air temperature, humidity, wind speed and the effects of long- and short-term drought.
To estimate the fire weather severity for bushfire prone areas in Queensland it was recognised that weather conditions vary across the state. Three inputs used included: weather variables, Forest Fire Density Index and climate change.
The remaining six steps within the standard determine the bush fire attack level (BAL). The construction of the building will then need to comply with relevant BAL corresponding sections under AS 3959 – 2018.
Industry Information Sessions
We will be holding Industry Information Sessions across the state in February and March dealing with the building in bushfire zones. Come along to hear our team of experts discuss in detail the bushfire prone area requirements and what you must consider when building in these areas.
Building in bushfire zones is complex and it’s important you understand your obligations upfront. Our Housing team are on hand to assist with member-exclusive advice. Contact us on 1300 30 50 10 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need assistance.