The Wellington Shire Council has areas that have been declared Bushfire Prone Areas (BPA’s) under the Building Act 1993. The Building Regulations 2006 require additional construction standards for new buildings, alterations and additions in bushfire prone areas to assist in the protection of those buildings. The Council first declared bushfire prone areas in November 2000 and has since amended the areas.
The changes adopted generally have arisen due to:
- Residential development that has occurred, reducing the fuel load in some areas
- Superior aerial photographic technology to enable more accurate evaluation of vegetation types and characteristics
- Ground truthing by the CFA physically checking areas to determine if the designation as bushfire prone is warranted
Overall, this has resulted in a more accurate evaluation of BPA’s within the shire. Council approved the 'Designated Bushfire Prone Areas' on 18 May 2004. If you propose to build in a Bushfire Prone Area your design will need to comply with the requirements of Australian Standard AS 3959-2009, Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas, which contains construction requirements and advice such as:
- Distance to fire source (vegetation)
- Vegetation type
- Wall and roof materials adopted
- Protection of window and door openings
- Protection of sub-floor area or lower perimeter
Your designer will need to ensure that all relevant information regarding bushfire exposure, construction level adopted, external materials etc. are indicated on building plans to show compliance with AS 3959-2009. This should be done prior to applying for a building permit.
Please also note that if a Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) or Wildfire Management Overlay (WMO) applies to your property, you will require Planning Approval prior to applying for Building Approval. Please contact Council's Planning Facilitator on 1300 366 244 for further details regarding planning approval.
Bushfire Attack Level (BAL)
You will need to have your site inspected and classified into a category of 'Bushfire Attack Level' being 12.5, 19, 29, 40 and FZ. This inspection can be organised by your private building surveyor, who will issue your building permit, or an independent building inspector.
Deemed to Satisfy Timbers
Depending on the level of construction required the use of timber is limited, however there are certain timber species listed within AS 3959-2009 that can be used for construction within bushfire prone areas.
Plan Prepare Survive
It is strongly recommended the owners of all vacant and occupied land prepare their properties throughout the year for fire management purposes. By addressing fire as a land management issue all year, your property will have a far greater chance of survival in a fire. In addition, following good land management principals will also save you money in most cases. For further information on bushfire safety please visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au