The following information relates primarily to Victoria.
Specific information relating to other States and Territories can be sought through your local council planning department.
The Building Amendment (Bushfire Construction) Regulations 2011 came into effect on 8 September 2011. These ongoing Regulations replace the interim Regulations made in March 2010 and implement permanent bushfire construction requirements across Victoria.
The Regulations increase the construction requirements on residential buildings for increased fire protection. This ranges from construction measures that provide ember protection at the lowest level to direct flame protection at the highest.
Under the new Regulations bushfire prone areas have been designated across the State.
All new houses or alterations/additions in a designated bushfire prone area must meet a minimum Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) of 12.5.
Before you design your home, a site assessment will need to be undertaken to ascertain your property's BAL, which will determine the construction methods that must be used. The construction requirements of the standard take into account a range of factors, including the Fire Danger Index, land slope and types of surrounding vegetation and its proximity to the building.
The Australian Standard - AS3959 - catagorises attack levels as follows.
The risk is very low, radiant heat on the building is insignificant to warrant specific construction requirements, however ember attack may still occur. If you are in a designated BPA, you must however construct to a minimum BAL 12.5.
Primarily risk of ember attack; risk of radiant heat is considered low.
Risk is considered moderate with increasing levels of ember attack and burning debris ignited by wind borne embers; increasing likelihood of exposure to radiant heat.
Risk is considered to be high with increasing levels of ember attack and burning debris ignited by wind borne embers; increasing likelihood of exposure to radiant heat.
Risk is considered to be very high. Increasing levels of ember attack and burning debris ignited by wind borne embers; increasing likelihood of exposure to radiant heat and some direct exposure to flames possible.
Risk is considered to be extreme. Direct exposure to flames from fire front is likely in addition to high levels of radiant heat exposure and ember attack.
An interactive map is available at Land.Vic where you can select your property to determine if it is within a designated BAL-12.5 area.