Building or retrofitting for bushfire resilience

Climate change is causing extreme weather fluctuations and more frequent events such as bushfires. In Ku-ring-gai it is particularly important that we look at adaptive and resilient home design as 36% of homes are within 130m of bush, making it the third most vulnerable local government area to bush fire in the Greater Sydney Region (Chen, 2004).

Learn more

Elements of a bushfire resilient building – Image 1

Elements of a bushfire resilient building – Image 2

Not sure if your home is bushfire prone?

Check this map or apply online for Section 10.7 Planning Certificate to confirm.

Property is not in a bushfire prone area?

You have no legal requirement to consider bushfires but remember that homes even up to 700m distance from bush land have been destroyed.

Want to make alterations, additions or undertake a new build in a bushfire prone area?

You have a legal obligation to consider bushfire risk and meet requirements to improve the resilience of your home to bushfire impacts. Approvals for the building work may be needed. Call Council to speak with a planner.

There are a number of minimal improvements that can be achieved for low cost and without planning approval. See basic tips on maintenance from NSW RFS to protect your property.

To find out what you need to consider when building click on the pointers in the images in the 'Learn More' section above.

What is bushfire attack level (BAL)?

Development in bushfire prone areas will depend on the bushfire attack level (BAL) determined for your property. The BAL for your property can be assessed using this RFS kit. A BAL risk assessment certificate must be obtained from a suitably qualified consultant before your building works can be assessed or approved by Council or a private certifier. The endorsement of the BAL is required as part of satisfying development standards for either complying development or a development application.

Search for a qualified consultant through the Fire Protection Authority Australia.

Bushfire attack levels.jpg

Drawing courtesy: Ecotide

 

Impacts of bushfires

 Bushfire impacts.jpg

 

Drawing courtesy: NSW RFS

  • Radiant heat - Exposure to the extreme heat generated from a bushfire can damage doors and windows and shatter glass, letting embers into the home.
  • Direct flame contact - can occur if the fire reaches the house. This is more likely if hazardous vegetation or other buildings are located very close to the house. Most houses are impacted by embers and not through direct flame contact.
  • Ember attack: This is the burning debris blown ahead of the fire by wind. Burning embers can travel up to 35 kms ahead of the fire. Ember attack is the primary form of bushfire impact on homes. 85% of homes destroyed in a bush fire are due to ember attack. Most homes that are impacted occur within the first 100m from bushland.
  • Wind and smoke: Wind carries embers and smoke and can influence fire behaviour. Smoke can affect the health of residents more than the property. This is especially so in case of the aged and infirm and those susceptible to respiratory disorders.

 

Examples of bushfire resilient buildings

References and resources