Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) should be a familiar term for New South Wales homeowners. The BAL rating of your home determines how well protected the property and homeowner is from bushfires. When considering a new build, BAL comes into play when planning construction.
BAL ratings rank from low to high so it is important to familiarise yourself with the various ratings and how they apply to your home. A BAL risk assessment should be carried out on any new build site in a high risk zone in order to ensure that your property is compliant with building standards.
Bushfire Attack Levels
Ratings range from BAL-LOW to BAL-FZ, extreme risk (flame zone), providing homeowners with a guide to building in New South Wales and is based on the severity of the building’s potential exposure to ember attach, radiant heat and direct flame contact.
The NCC (National Construction Code) defines a designated bushfire prone area as land which has been designated under a power of legislation as being subject, or likely to be subject, to bushfires.
As a consequence, the process for identifying bushfire prone areas is a matter for each individual state and territory regulator and while it differs from state to state, it usually involves an approach to the relevant council or reference to a land mapping facility provided by the respective state regulator or agency to determine your bushfire risk.
The Australian standard: 3959 dictates construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas. Building in a bushfire prone area introduces a number of additional design, specification and construction parameters that cannot be ignored.
These additional requirements can add extra costs to a new home, so it is important to note that is usually more than one option available to designers and builders to meet the requirements of building regulations and standards.
When a bushfire warning is issued, it is important to track the progress of the fire. The NSW Rural Fire Service provides a live feed of any busy fires in New South Wales. By monitoring the progress of any bushfires, you can ensure the safety of your family by evacuating with plenty of time.
Note* -If you have any concerns about the BAL rating of an older property you can use the Building Code of Australia to aid you in any planned renovations.
When a fire warning is issued it is important to protect your property against attack. Remove all rubbish and consider cutting back vegetation that presents a fire hazard. Make sure that your family has an effective escape plan for a worst-case scenario.
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For more information, read our article on ‘what are BAL ratings‘.