Back to Back Issues Page
KHB-Zine, Issue #012: Compiling a bushfire statement for submission
December 02, 2017


Welcome to the November edition of KHB Ezine.

This month....
Compiling a Bushfire Statement for Submission

Early PS: if you are reading this on a phone, turn it sideways to enable landscape view, it's easier to read.

Last month I discussed a full Development Application and within that, in bushfire prone land, the need for a Bushfire Management Statement. A bushfire statement should include:

1. a property fire rating called a 'bushfire attack level' (BAL) with a safe asset protection zone and
2. a set of construction additions to meet the BAL based on the relevant 'Building Code of Standards'.

Additionally, a new home in a bushfire prone area should have a bushfire management plan, which will include land preparation and maintenance, appliances, water access, survival plans and fight or flee provisions.

So how do you fire-rate a property?
A bushfire assessment is needed and the council authority in your area will have an assessment rating calculator that will create a bushfire attack level (BAL).
Step 1: Determine vegetation/forest types around the building
Step 2: Determine the distance between each vegetation formation and the building
Step 3: Determine the effective slope
Step 4:Determine the relevant Fire Danger Index (FDI)
Step 5: Match the relevant FDI, appropriate vegetation, distance and effective slope to determine the appropriate Asset Protection Zone, BAL and level of construction.

What is an APZ?
An asset protection zone (APZ) is an area between a bush fire hazard and the building, which is managed to minimise fuel loads, inhibit a fire path and reduce the effects of heat, flame, ember and smoke attack. Put simply it keeps the effects of the fire away from the building. In my case the APZ was based on my intention to clear half a hectare (1.5 acres) of my 2 hectare (5 acre) property for the home site. With a 5% upslope, dry sclerophyll forest, area FDI of 80, and 35 metres from the house site to the forest, my BAL calculation was '29'.

What do the BAL levels mean?
In Australia, BAL's start at low (minimal), then 12.5, 19, 29, 40 and 'flame zone'. The level relates to the attack from radiant heat and flame measured in Kilowatts per square metre eg 12.5 KW/SqM. Each level has corresponding construction requirements to meet the danger level.

How to meet BAL to construction requirements
The construction requirements for my BAL were set out in the Australian Standard As3959.2009, Section 7: Construction for Bushfire Attack Level 29. Those standards were:
• Concrete slab floor (no sub flooring)
• Steel frame walls and roof
• Double sided foil sarking on the outside of the frame
• Fibre cement blue board cladding butt jointed and rendered
• Colorbond metal roof
• 50mm thick foil-backed fibreglass insulation blanket
• Steel fascia, gutter and downpipe system
• Steel gutter guard
• Fibre cement sheet eaves with steel vents and steel screens
• Metal window frames with toughened 5mm glass and stainless steel insect screens
• Solid timber external doors with 5mm toughened glass (fire resistant paint to doors)
• Metal sliding doors with toughened 5mm glass and stainless steel insect screens
• Rolled steel water tanks
• Steel garage
• Fire retardant vegetation around site
The higher the BAL, the more requirements needed. Most council authorities will now deny DA submissions of BAL 40 or above. So forget about building a cosy private retreat inside a forest.

How to make a Bushfire Plan
A bushfire plan has these elements:
1. Appliances and water to fight fire
-Consider purchasing a fire pump and hose. Mains water pressure reduces dramatically during fire events, and electricity often fails so electric pumps wont help.
-Raise the water tank outlet so at least 10,000 litres (2 to 3000 gallons) is retained for bushfire fighting.
-Consider a dam and roof sprinklers
2. Maintenance and plantings to resist fire
-keep gutters clear of leaves, the house clear of combustable material eg wood piles, reduce combustable shrubs near the house.
-consider back burning forest acreage with the assistance of the local fire services
-continue to selectively clear saplings and mow grass frequently
-plant fire resistant shrubs and trees
3. Survival and escape plans
-Assemble a fire fighting kit: appropriate personal protective clothing: hat, glasses, face mask/bandana, gloves, boots, and drinking water. Have shovels, hoses, ladders and 'thwakers' available. Personal water pump sprayers are useful as well.
-Assemble a survival/escape pack: 3 days of non perishable provisions, water, radio, torch, a tent and related gear and a pre-determined route of escape,. Also a list of pre-selected documents, contacts, valuables and electronic gear to take with you.

Need a short ebook on owner building? Your big bonus, just for being a subscriber, is personal access to my Free Ebook:
Kit home groundwork: 5 Crucial Steps.

Download your free PDF version HERE and use your personal password khb6452 (lower case letters-expires in 7 days). If you miss out just contact me.
I'm happy for you to share this file and newsletter with a friend, but please don't upload it.

Are you looking for a fantastic full experience description of completing a steel framed kit home, from beginning to end? Steel Yourself is an ebook with excellent graphics, diagrams, submissions and material lists to assist an owner builder to navigate the journey of the owner build.

I will prove to you that any owner builder can plan, submit, build and finish a steel building kithome project.

For more information click here

Follow me on Facebook here and if you like the page...please "like and follow" it!

warm regards

Back to Back Issues Page