Builders briefed on new bushfire standards

Builders briefed on new bushfire standards

1 September 2009

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Australia — The Government is conducting training sessions across the State to inform key stakeholders on new bushfire building regulations introduced today.

Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Stirling Hinchliffe says the State Government is leading the way with the early adoption of new national bushfire standards for residential buildings.

The national deadline for the introduction of the new Australian Standard is May 1, 2010.

“The recent deadly Victorian bushfires were a stark reminder to all Australians about the dangers our country can present,” Hinchliffe explains.

“While we cannot stop natural disasters from occurring, what we can do is help protect the lives of Queenslanders by ensuring that all steps are taken to improve safety in their homes,” he says.

“These new building standards are the result of the latest research into fire-resistant construction and we want Queenslanders to benefit from this research as soon as possible. That is why we have decided to bring these new standards in seven months early.”

The new standards will be incorporated in the Building Act 1975, which regulates building development in Queensland.

The new standards replace the 1999 Australian Standard for design and construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas and will apply to residential building work in designated bushfire prone areas.

Hinchliffe says the new measures include non-combustible doors, non-combustible gas and water supply pipes and bushfire shutters.

Different standards apply to different homes and depend on a variety of conditions including construction materials, the gradient of the site and the proximity to vegetation.

The new standard has six risk categories, or Bushfire Attack Levels (BAL), compared to the previous four categories.

These new requirements will result in a more detailed risk assessment for each building site, addressing different levels of exposure that could result from different levels of bushfire attack.

“Generally, the new standard requires the use of non-combustible materials. These materials are not entirely fire resistant, but protect against burning embers and certain levels of radiant heat,” Hinchliffe says.

“While owners may face some increase in building costs to comply with the new standards, it will be money well spent,’ he says.

Firemex Director Neil Pinchers says the new standard includes items such as non-combustible doors which can withstand intense heat for up to 30 minutes.

Pinchers says normal residential doors have a much shorter fire life.

“Half hour rated life safety doors offer life protection and people in bushfire prone areas need to be prepared,” he says.

“There’s no doubt the climate is getting dryer and there are more combustible fuels around. The Queensland Government should be commended for introducing new Australian fire standards in time for summer and well ahead of the national deadline.”

Hinchliffe says his department has conducted training sessions across the State to inform stakeholders about the new regulations.

“In the lead up to the adoption of these new regulations, my officers have participated in training sessions across Queensland to inform stakeholders about the new regulations,” he says.

Over 350 building certifiers, builders and building designers have attended these sessions.

“The new standard will apply to anybody proposing to build or alter a house, residential unit or hotel/motel-type building in a bushfire-prone area.”

For more information on bushfire building standards

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