Construction - bushfire areas

This page provides a summary of the changes to legislation in relation to construction in bushfire prone areas.

Following the Victorian bushfires in February 2009, the State Government introduced a number of changes into the Building Regulations.


Building regulations

All proposed works for dwellings, units, flats, other residential buildings and associated outbuildings must be designed and constructed 'to reduce the risk of ignition from a bushfire while the fire front passes'.

Australian Standard AS 3959-2018 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas has been adopted and includes provision for classifying the level of bushfire attack and defines the required construction for each level.

Amendments to the Regulations came into being in September 2011. Some areas of the state are no longer classed as Designated Bushfire Prone Areas. For further information and to determine if your property is in a Bushfire Prone Area, visit the Land Victoria website.

You will need to ensure that your designer has taken into account the provisions that are applicable at the time that you are applying for building permits and constructing your building.


Application preparation - Bushfire Attack Level (BAL)

Before an application for a building permit can be assessed, the applicant must submit an assessment of the Bushfire Attack Level – BAL. AS 3959 sets out this process and the Victorian Building Authority has prepared a form that can be used for this assessment. Your designer should assist you with this assessment.

It is recommended that you engage an appropriately qualified and experienced person to prepare the BAL report.
The relevant building surveyor will then assess the BAL report for accuracy and suitability.

It should be noted that where a property is assessed as a BAL - Low the building must be constructed to the standard applicable (BAL - 12.5).


Bushfire area requirements - Wildfire Management Overlay

For properties located in a Wildfire Management Overlay under the Town Planning Scheme, there are further specific requirements.

Contact our Statutory Planning Unit on 03 5272 4456 for further information.


Private bushfire shelters

There has been much publicity recently regarding private bushfire shelter (PBS).

Regulations have been in place since 11 November 2009, requiring all PBS to have a building permit.

A PBS is a Class 10c building associated with Class 1 dwelling.

PBS construction requirements can be found in Regulation 163-166 and performance requirement P.2.3.5 of Volume Two of the BCA.


References

  • AS 3959 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas
    Available from SAI Global
  • Bushfire Attack Level Assessment Report
    Available on the Victorian Building Authority - bushfires page
  • Community Information Sheet - Bushfire bunkers
    Available on the Victorian Building Authority - bushfires page
  • Building Regulations 2018 and amendments
    Available on the Victorian Building Authority - Building Regulations 2018 page.




Page last updated: Monday, 11 October 2021

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