Building in Bushfire Prone Areas


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.

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.

Planning & Building Processes (Post Fire)

If structures on your property have been affected by bushfire, the following information may assist you in the re-establishment of damaged or destroyed structures such as houses, sheds and other outbuildings, swimming pools and spas. We can give you individual advice about your property and what you need to do.

Building Permits

If structures at your property are affected by bushfire you will be required to obtain a building permit to re-build prior to commencing work.

House Plans

Wellington Shire Council retains copies of building permits and plans. Should you require copies of past permits or plans for insurance or other purposes, please complete a Building Permit Request Form. Wellington Shire Council is currently waiving fees for bushfire affected properties.

Planning Permits

If your dwelling and/or outbuilding(s) are affected by bushfire, you may need a planning permit prior to the issuing of a building permit. Wellington Shire Council is the authority that issues planning permits. We are currently waiving planning permit application fees for re-establishment of dwellings/outbuildings affected by bushfire events.

Onsite Wastewater Management Systems

Some septic tank systems may have been damaged as a result of bushfire. A septic tank permit will need to be obtained to replace, repair or alter any damaged system. Wellington Shire Council can provide advice to landholders regarding their septic tank systems.

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