Contributor Mark Newman, director of award-winning Newmark Construction – experienced specialists in building homes within bushfire zones – outlines an introduction to Australian Standard 3959, the regulation governing building or renovating in a designated Bushfire Prone Area.
Bushfires aren’t a necessary evil. They’re just necessary. An integral part of Australia’s ecological well-being, many native plant species have evolved to variously resist, survive, rely on and even encourage fire. Some Eucalypts and Banksias only germinate after fire opens their seed pods, or regenerate through buds sprouting from within the plant when fire has burnt away external foliage; other Eucalypts have evolved leaves containing flammable oils to fuel fires that wipeout competitors.
Like our flora and fauna, people living in a Bushfire Prone Area must adapt to survive. Essentially it’s all about minimising risk by building-in safety measures to prevent fire taking hold, or to delay its spread if it does catch. The ultimate aim is providing a survivable environment should the worst happen and bushfire sweeps through your vicinity. There are no guarantees your house won’t burn, but the measures Mark summarises below will help protect your home.
- Understand the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) applicable to your home – it dictates the minimum construction standards (BAL rating) you must adhere to.
- Establish an inner protection zone (IPZ) – a buffer area between the bushfire hazard and your home.
- Use non-combustible building materials such as masonry or fibrous cement walls and metal roofing.
- Minimise roof valleys and enclose under-floor spaces with mesh, to avoid trapping embers.
- Install windows with an appropriate BAL rating.
Mark’s knowledge and experience have helped many homeowners meet the unique challenges of building or renovating within a bushfire zone. For further information, download Mark’s ’21 point bushfire zone checklist’ from www.newmark.com.au – and check out the other resources provided
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