Bushfire regulation “not a panacea”: MBA

Bushfire regulation “not a panacea”: MBA

22 September 2009

published by www.architectureanddesign.com.au

Australia —

The Bushfire Royal Commission will make early recommendations for the regulation of bunkers ahead of Victoria’s fire season, prompting fears that they could be made compulsory.

Matters “could not wait” until the final report next July, chairman Bernard Teague said.

There is currently no regulation on bushfire bunkers in any state in Australia.

Making bushfire bunkers obligatory for high fire-risk zones would be “an impost” on people in those areas, MBA Victorian executive director Brian Welch said.

The recent relaxation of the vegetation clearing laws would have a greater impact than the new bunker regulations, Welch said.

“Regulation is useful, but it’s not a panacea,” he said. “Seven of the deaths were in bunkers, people who thought they were safe.”

Chairman Teague said yesterday that commissioners would deliver interim recommendations regarding bushfire bunker regulations, some aspects of the new AS3959 building standard and the need for a revision of the Standards Australia handbook.

Master Builders Australia was “concerned” about the temperature that bunkers will need to withstand and how that figure is identified.

“It’s going to be an arbitrary judgment,” Welch said.

Manufacturing a bunker strong enough to withstand falling trees and extreme temperatures, with a fire-rated door and oxygen, would be very expensive, he said.

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