New standard helps battle bushfires

 New standard helps battle bushfires

22 April 2009

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Australia — A new national bushfire standard aimed at better protecting homes in bushfire prone areas has been finalised by Standards Australia.

AS3959-09: Construction of Buildings in Bushfire Prone Areas has been accepted by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) and will replace the 1999 standard currently referenced in the Building Code of Australia when it is next updated in 2010.

While for most states and territories, compliance with the standard won’t be mandatory until the BCA is updated, the Victorian and ACT governments have chosen to implement the standard immediately.

The standard applies to new homes, as well as renovations and additions, and also to structures attached to or sharing a common roof space with the main building, such as garages, carports and verandas.

The standard is based on a 1,090K flame temperature, an increase from the 1,000K benchmark used in the previous standard, meaning that it’s likely more homes will fall under the new standard.

The new standard uses a five-step method for assessing the likely threat to life and property of bushfire at building sites and to determine a site’s Bushfire Attack Level (BAL).

In determining a site’s BAL, the Fire Danger Index, vegetation type, distance of the site from vegetation and the effective slope under the vegetation are taken into account.

Construction specifications for new buildings are also required to reflect their location’s assessed level of bushfire exposure.

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