Building in designated bush fire prone areas
Building in designated bush fire prone areas
In Western Australia, building work is required to comply with the performance requirements of the Building Code of Australia (the Building Code), which comprises Volumes One and Two of the National Construction Code Series.
The Building Code contains specific bush fire construction requirements for certain residential buildings in designated bush fire prone areas that aim to reduce the risk of ignition from a bush fire.
Areas identified on the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas trigger these requirements.
To find out more, click on the following link:
2019 announcement of changes to the bush fire policy framework and map
On 30 July 2019, the McGowan Government announced a three-stage plan to improve the bush fire policy framework, including the Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas (the Map).
The improvements will reduce the number of residential buildings required to comply with the bush fire construction requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
Stage One will see a new edition of the Map come into effect on Wednesday, 31 July 2019 reducing the number of areas designated bush fire prone across 19 inner metropolitan local governments (from Stirling to Belmont to Fremantle). Another edition of the Map will come into effect on 28 September 2019 that will further refine the designation of bush fire prone areas for these local governments.
To view the Map, or for further information regarding it, please visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website: www.dfes.wa.gov.au/bushfireproneareas
Stage Two will see the CSIRO engaged to develop a new bush fire prone area mapping methodology for Western Australia, with a new edition of the Map expected to be released in late 2020. Stage Three will amend relevant policies in line with the new mapping methodology.
General guidance for home owners about what the changes to the Map mean to the building approval process.
Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas
The Map of Bush Fire Prone Areas (the Map) identifies land designated bush fire prone by the Fire and Emergency Services (FES) Commissioner.
The Map has been developed by the Office of Bushfire Risk Management (OBRM) and is available to view on from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ (DFES) website. The Map is updated annually.
Certain buildings that are located in bush fire prone areas may require a further assessment of the bush fire risk and additional bush fire resistant construction to comply with the requirements of the building legislation.
Please note: The Building Regulations 2012 provide a four month transition period from the date of a FES Commissioner order designating a new area as bush fire prone before the bush fire construction requirements of the BCA are triggered for certain residential buildings. This four month transition period does not apply to existing designated bush fire prone areas.
Construction in bush fire prone areas – previous information sessions
In 2015, the department undertook a series of regional roadshows, south west and metropolitan “construction in bush fire prone areas” seminars to provide builders, building surveyors, permit authorities and the industry an opportunity to hear and engage with presenters regarding the bush fire reforms. The presentations covered:
- an overview of building and planning bush fire reform;
- amendments to the Building Regulations in relation to building approvals;
- Steps on the general bushfire requirements for a single house; and
- construction requirements of AS3959.
A version of the presentation slides is available below for general guidance. Please note the slides are not comprehensive and should not be relied on for compliance purposes. You should always refer to the relevant legislation and standards.
Roof-mounted evaporative coolers
From 8 April 2016 new roof-mounted evaporative coolers being installed on residential buildings that are located in a designated bush fire prone area must be fitted with non-combustible covers.
Transition for alterations and extensions in bush fire prone areas
The building legislation of Western Australia requires new building work to comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The term building work includes the renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair to a building or incidental structure.
To assist in the implementation of the bush fire reforms a transition, until 1 May 2021, of the BCA bush fire construction requirements has been provided to certain renovations, alterations, extensions, improvements or repairs in designated bush fire prone areas.
Transitional bush fire application to modify or not apply a bush fire building standard
The Building Regulations 2012 were amended on 8 February 2017 to introduce a transitional process for making streamlined applications under section 39 of the Building Act 2011 for seeking a declaration from the Building Commissioner for the non-application or modification of a bushfire building standard.
The Building Commissioner can only make a declaration when satisfied that the declaration would not increase the risk to people, property or the environment and that making the declaration is:
- in the public interest; or
- consistent with the purpose of any other written law or Commonwealth law.
See the following for further information:
- Guidance note – Section 39 transitional bush fire application to modify or not apply a bush fire building standard
- Guidance note – Guide for Level 3 Bushfire Planning Practitioner – Performance: Transitional bush fire application
- Form BA24A – Application for modification or non-application of a bush fire building standard
- Industry Bulletin 77 – Building Amendment Regulations 2017
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