Construction in designated bushfire-prone areas – update
The Fire and Emergency Services Amendment Bill 2014 ('the FES Bill'), which was recently introduced into Parliament, creates a head of power in the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1998 to allow the Fire and Emergency Services ('FES') Commissioner to make orders designating areas of the State as bushfire-prone.
This power will not have effect until the FES Commissioner makes an order, published in the Government Gazette, designating bushfire-prone areas. It is understood the order will refer to a state Bushfire-Prone Area Map (State Map).
The Building Commission is liaising closely with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the Department of Planning and Parliamentary Counsel’s Office to ensure that proposed Planning Regulations and Building Amendment Regulations relating to bushfire risk management, and any order by the FES Commissioner designating bushfire-prone areas, will be consistent and introduced in a coordinated manner.
The Building Commission has been advised that the Department of Planning’s proposed Planning and Development (Bushfire Risk Management) Regulations 2014 ('the Planning Regulations') will apply four months after an order by the FES Commissioner designating bushfire-prone areas is made. This transitional provision is designed to give the building and planning industries additional time to take into account the effect of the State Map when considering future development.
In order to align with the proposed Planning Regulations, the Building Commission is currently having amendments to the Building Regulations 2012 drafted to provide, among other things, that the bushfire construction requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) will not apply until four months after an order is made by the FES Commissioner.
The Building Commission will release further information regarding amendments to the Building Regulations 2012, including the four month transition of the BCA bushfire requirements, once the FES Bill has been passed.
Existing designated bushfire-prone areas
The bushfire construction requirements of the BCA continue to apply in local government areas that have already been designated as bushfire-prone through local planning schemes or similar existing legal mechanism.