On 11 March 2009 the Victorian Government introduced the Building Amendment (Bushfire Construction) Interim Regulations 2009. The objective of the amendment is to regulate the construction requirements of Class 1, 2, 3 (dwellings, dwelling units, motels, guest house), and associated Class 10a (garages, sheds), buildings that may be subject to the effect of bushfire.
All proposed building work throughout Victoria to any Class 1, 2, 3 or associated Class 10a building is required to address the requirements of AS3959 – 2009 Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas. It will be important to conduct and fully document a site assessment to determine the level of protection required by the new Australian Standard. The Building Commission have produced "A guide to assessing your property's Bushfire Attack Level (BAL)" (see below).
The aim of the residential building standard Australian Standard, AS 3959-2009, is to improve the ability of buildings to withstand attack from bushfires. This provides greater protection for the occupants of a building while the fire front passes as well as to the building itself.
The standards set out construction requirements based on Bushfire Attack Levels (BAL). The BAL takes into consideration a number of factors including Fire Damage Index, the slope of the land, types of surrounding vegetation and its proximity to any building.
A site assessment can be made by an owner, architect, building designer, building surveyor, or builder to ascertain its BAL, which determines the construction methods that must be used. The construction methods must be included on the design documents lodged for a building permit. The relevant building surveyor will check that these requirements are met. A copy of “A guide to assessing your property's Bushfire Attack Level (BAL)” can be downloaded below.
The information in the guide summarises the simplified method for people to determine their BAL using an easy six-step approach. Sufficient information should be provided to the relevant building surveyor to allow confirmation of the assessment.