BAL CERTIFICATES, BUSHFIRE REPORTS & ASSESSMENTS
Servicing the Northern Rivers Region NSW
Melanie Jackson, Director
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: reconciling 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. Our expertise is trusted by stakeholders and staff in many Northern Rivers Local Government Area and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
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 relating to bushfire risk before you start to sink money into the development.
This report, however, does not take the place of a full bushfire risk assessment which may still be required with the submission of a development application. Alternatively a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Certificate may be required for complying 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 an existing dwelling in bushfire prone areas.
Bushfire Risk Consultants provide comprehensive bushfire reports for your Development Application (DA) to Council. Having extensive experience, 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 for your dream development to be realised. By engaging Bushfire Risk Consultants in the early planning stages, you will achieve greater peace of mind, increased approval success, potentially reducing 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). This is currently the highest qualification available for consultants that 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) delivering 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 provides an enhanced level of confidence for government and the community 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 of the competency requirements, applicants must ensure key requirements are also met as per the diagram below.
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).
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.