Welcome to the November edition of KHB Ezine.
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
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
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
• 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
-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
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