Bushfire Risk Consultants Northern NSW


Servicing the Northern Rivers Region NSW

Melanie Jackson, Director

BPAD Accredited Practitioner

Expert bushfire planning and design consultancy

Bushfire Risk Consultants are based in the Northern Rivers Region of Northern NSW and provide quality, professional bushfire reports and services in planning for bushfire protection with an environmental, ethical & customer service focus.

We seek a balanced, positive development application result that reconciles the needs of home builders and developers in bushfire-prone areas, a sustainable environment, and bushfire legislation.

Bushfire Risk has a high Development Application approval rate in the Northern Rivers Region. Stakeholders and staff trust our expertise in many Northern Rivers Local Government Areas and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.

We only service the following local government areas.

Our Services

The aim of this assessment is to help clients understand what they are facing before they start. Buying or building on or near bushfire-prone land does have certain constraints in relation to land use, building design, construction materials, and ultimately cost.

A pre-purchase or preliminary consultation can identify potential issues related to bushfire risk before you start investing in the development.

This report, however, only replaces a partial bushfire risk assessment, which may still be required when submitting a development application. Alternatively, a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Certificate may be required to comply with development purposes.

A Bushfire Risk Assessment Report (s.4.14 EPA Act) is needed for new homes, granny flats, dual occupancy, or alterations and additions to existing dwellings in bushfire-prone areas.

Bushfire Risk Consultants provide comprehensive bushfire reports for your Development Application (DA) to the Council. With extensive experience and environmental and bushfire qualifications, we work closely with you to achieve your dream of living amongst the trees.

Your report will include what you need to do to realise your dream development. By engaging Bushfire Risk Consultants in the early planning stages, you will achieve greater peace of mind, increased approval success, potentially reduced BAL rating and building costs, planning restrictions, and costly delays.

Bushfire Risk Assessment Reports are required for large and small scale sub-divisions, boundary adjustments, sub-dividing dual-occupancies and special fire protection purpose developments (SFPP) in rural, rural-residential and residential bushfire prone areas.

Bushfire Risk Consultants conduct comprehensive bushfire assessments for development applications against the NSW RFS document ‘Planning for Bushfire Protection’ 2019 and AS3959-2018. Under s.4.46 of the EPA Act 1979 in combination with s.100B of the NSW Rural Fires Act 1997, these developments require a Bushfire Safety Authority (BFSA) from the NSW RFS.

We work closely with our clients, balancing site constraints, the built and natural environmental requirements, and present a detailed report, outlining what you need to do to achieve compliance. We promise that our service, availability and advice will exceed your expectations. By engaging Bushfire Risk Consultants in the early planning stages will prevent costly delays, planning restrictions and potentially maximise development yield.

Alternative Solutions Reports are used if your development cannot comply with the acceptable solutions, or your site is heavily constrained, and a one-size-fits-all approach under the planning framework may not suffice.

Development applications of this type will require the submission of additional information to that as identified in the submission requirements for 100B (RF Act 1997) and s.4.14 (EPA Act 1979) developments.

Specialist alternate solutions may include site-specific fuel load assessments and complex calculations to determine potential fire behaviour, presented in a standalone ‘Bushfire Safety Engineering Brief’ or within a ‘Bushfire Risk Assessment Report’ for the DA.

Examples where alternate solutions may be required:

  • Heavily constrained or flame zone sites with reduced APZ distances between the building location and hazard.
  • Asset protection zones (APZ) on neighbouring land or steeply sloping sites.
  • Sites where vegetation retention is a priority.
  • Sites with one access road to a proposed dwelling more than 200m from a Council road.

The benefits of using alternate solutions may include the following:

  • Reduced BAL rating and construction costs.
  • Increased building material choices.
  • Minimise vegetation clearing.
  • Establish suitable property access for fire-fighting and evacuation purposes in remote areas.

A BAL certificate is a statement of the Level of Bushfire Attack for your land or development. It certifies that the development is not in the Flame Zone or BAL 40 as per Australian Standard (AS) 3959-2018.

This is a NSW legislative requirement if you are carrying out Complying Development on bushfire prone land. It must be prepared by experienced and trusted ‘BPAD Accredited Practitioners’ as Bushfire Risk Consultants are, recognised under current NSW planning legislation.

We determine the BAL rating to ensure that your development is undertaken in such a way that risk to people and property is minimised and to determine the appropriate level of construction required relative to the potential bush fire attack.

Bushfire Risk Consultants provide accurate bushfire assessments considering site-specific development requirements including provisions for access, water and utility services, siting and design in order to achieve compliance outlined in NSW RFS document ‘Planning for Bushfire Protection 2019 and the requirements of the SEPP Code.

Frequently Asked Questions

Melanie Jackson is a qualified BPAD Level 3 (Bushfire Planning & Design Practitioner), the highest qualification currently available for consultants who provide BPAD services.

Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) administers the Bushfire Planning and Design (BPAD) Accreditation Scheme (the Scheme). The Scheme was first developed and implemented in 2006 in response to demands from the community, government and industry to establish a recognition program for bushfire planning and design (BPAD) Accredited Practitioners to assist the community in undertaking development on land subject to bushfire impact.

The scheme was designed for individuals (practitioners) who deliver bushfire assessment, planning, design, and advice services. It accredits practitioners who meet criteria based on specific accreditation and competency requirements, including detailed knowledge of and ability to practically apply the relevant planning, development and building legislation and policies, the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standard AS3959 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas.

The Scheme enhances government and community confidence that practitioners providing bushfire planning and design services are accredited by a suitably robust scheme that complies with the State Government’s accreditation framework and is administered by the national peak body for fire safety.

BPAD Accredited Practitioners are recognised by the industry, regulators, fire agencies, end-users and the community as providers of professional bushfire assessment, planning, design and advice services.

Accreditation is a formal acknowledgement by FPA Australia that an Accredited Practitioner has met the requirements of the BPAD Accreditation Scheme. In addition to meeting all competency requirements, applicants must also ensure that key requirements are met, according to the diagram below.

BPAD Practitioner


BPAD Categories

BPAD Level 1 – BAL Assessor
This qualification recognises practitioners who determine Bushfire Attack Levels using simplified methods and advise on the appropriate design and construction requirements.

BPAD Level 2 – Bushfire Planning Practitioner
This qualification recognises practitioners who develop planning and building applications by applying prescribed design requirements in accordance with the local regulatory requirements. This is in addition to the activities described for a Level 1 Practitioner.

BPAD Level 3 – Bushfire Planning and Design Practitioner
This qualification recognises practitioners who develop planning and building applications by developing alternative design solutions (excluding construction provisions) in accordance with the local regulatory requirements. This is in addition to the activities described for Level 1 and 2 Practitioner.

Bushfire Attack Level, the BAL is a measure of a building’s potential exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact during a bushfire. The BAL is a stepped measure of Radiant Heat Flux, expressed as kW/m2. The BAL provides a set of construction measures for compliance which are set out in Australian Standard 3959-2018 and Planning for Bushfire Protection* (PBP 2019).

An assessment shall result in one of the following six BAL ratings:

  • BAL-LOW – Insufficient threat to warrant specific bushfire construction requirements.
  • BAL-12.5 – Ember attack; Specific construction requirements for ember protection and accumulation of debris are warranted.
  • BAL-19 – Ember attack and significant radiant heat flux not exceeding 19kW/m2. Specific construction requirements for embers and radiant heat are warranted.
  • BAL-29 – Attack from burning debris and significant radiant heat flux not exceeding 29kW/m2. Specific construction requirements for ember and higher levels of radiant heat are warranted. Some flame contact is possible.
  • BAL-40 – Extreme radiant heat flux and potential flame contact could threaten building integrity.
  • BAL-FZ – Significant radiant heat and significantly higher likelihood of flame contact from the fire front will threaten building integrity and result in significant risk to residents.

(*Note: additional construction measures are required in NSW).

If your dwelling is situated in a bushfire prone area, external alterations and additions which include changes in size, external works such as new windows and doors, roofs etc. will need a bushfire risk assessment to determine the BAL rating. Existing buildings benefit from ember protection, specifically older buildings constructed prior to the introduction of modern bushfire protection measures for construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas.
Residential or rural residential developments that result in an increase in density on a single site, should be constructed in areas of lower bushfire risk. Therefore a bushfire assessment is required to determine the site constraints whilst ensuring the building is not exposed to excessive bushfire threat. Therefore the new dwelling is required to ensure appropriate Asset Protection Zones (APZ) are commensurate with BAL-29 or lower construction level, along with suitable provision for access, water and landscaping. Therefore BAL-40 of BAL-FZ second dwellings or granny flats are unacceptable in bushfire prone areas.
For Development Applications (DA) a single dwelling application kit is available on the NSW RFS website, which was developed to assist property owners in assessing the BAL rating of the site. These kits are often misinterpreted and mistakes are common resulting in costly delays, even refusal. It is therefore strongly recommended to obtain professional advice from a qualified BPAD-Level 3, accredited bushfire consultant, reducing unexpected issues. An accurate bushfire risk assessment and report lodged with your DA may prevent non-compliance issues, costly delays or refusal. For Complying Development Certificates (CDC Applications), a BAL Certificate is required from an accredited BPAD Level 3 Bushfire Consultant. Self assessments are not compliant for CDC applications.

These are classified as ‘Class 10’ buildings, where you intend to construct these structures more than 6m from a dwelling, they do not require additional construction requirements in relation to bushfire.

If sited within 6m or they are attached to a dwelling, these structures will require a bushfire risk assessment to determine the BAL rating.

Start the Bushfire Risk Assessment Process

Start the Bushfire Risk Assessment Process

Customer Reviews

Bushfire Risk services the following areas of the Northern Rivers Region including:

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Start the Bushfire Risk Assessment Process