Bushfire attack is a hazard that is a relevant consideration throughout New South Wales. Bushfire risk assessment is an essential component when it comes to the preparation or amendment of town planning schemes, strategies and policies, and in the consideration of applications for urban development or subdivision projects.
Relevant Regulations And Standards For Bushfire Risk Assessment
The NSW Rural Fire Service document entitled Planning for Bush Fire Protection (PBP) offers the basis for development in bushfire-prone areas (BPA) or Bushfire Prone Land (BFPL).
Unless the NSW Rural Fire Service has been contacted by the permit authority, any development on bushfire-prone land must comply with the standards of PBP 2019. Section 100B of the Rural Fires Act 1997 mandates that the NSW Rural Fire Service must issue a bushfire safety authority before development takes place. To do this, a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment must be completed.
Moving beyond NSW borders into the rest of Australia, the Australian Standard AS3959:2018 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas comes into effect. Under this new standard, each proposed development and construction plan must have a BAL assessment completed by the builder or landowner. This necessitates the submission of a study to determine the risk of bushfires on proposed developments.
Understanding The Reasoning Behind Bushfire Risk Mitigation
These standards and regulations exist to streamline development in bushfire-prone areas, finding functional, sustainable solutions to bushfire risks. If we can explore solutions that implement bushfire safety as a part of property development plans, we do not run the risk of halting progress in the face of adversity.
Bushfires are an ingrained part of Australia’s history; it is a force that needs to be respected regarding its role in forming the landscapes and ecosystems that we call our home. It is a force we need not fear but must learn from and adapt to.
What Does A BAL (Bushfire Attack Level) Assessment Entail?
In accordance with the Australian Standard AS3959:2018, all proposed development applications must include a BAL Assessment. This report determines the risk of bushfire attack in terms of the area’s FDI (Fire Danger Index), the gradient slope of the land and vegetation type. BAL assessments are divided into six levels, indicating the intensity of radiant heat exposure.
Bushfire Attack Levels:
- BAL-LOW: No threat detected. No amendments to the property required.
- BAL-12.5: Increasing levels of ember attack, together with increasing radiant heat exposure expected to affect the property at a rate of 12.5 kW/m2.
- BAL-19: 19 kW/m2 – Increasing levels of ember attack, together with increasing radiant heat exposure expected to affect the property at a rate of 19.5 kW/m2.
- BAL-29: 29 kW/m2 – Increasing levels of ember attack, together with increasing radiant heat exposure expected to affect the property at a rate of 29 kW/m.
- BAL-40: 40 kW/m2 – Increasing levels of ember attack, together with increasing radiant heat exposure expected to affect the property at a rate of 40 kW/m with increased risk of exposure to direct flames.
- BAL-FZ: Flame Zone – Radiant heat levels as high as 100 kW/m2 can be expected.
The Australian Standard AS3959:2018 outlines what property amendments and testing procedures are necessary for construction to meet the BAL assessment levels. A certified AQF level 5 Arborist is qualified to provide detailed recommendations for bushfire mitigation for development in open spaces based on the BAL rating of the proposed development site.
Treescience – Qualified Bushfire Consultancy
It is not only new developments that require a bushfire risk assessment. Bushfire risks fluctuate with changing seasons and with the life cycles of native vegetation. In bushfire-prone areas, BAL assessments should take place on an ongoing basis to ensure safety.
The Treescience bushfire consultants are accredited by the University of Melbourne as Bushfire Risk Assessment Practitioners (AQF Level) and as Bushfire Planning & Design (BPAD) Level 2 and 3 practitioners. Our consultants possess the necessary knowledge and expertise to assess and apply the relevant development processes outlined by Australian standards and regionally-specific policies governing urban development in bushfire-prone areas. Contact us today for assistance with new development and ongoing bushfire risk assessment.