The Building and Asset Services (BAS) of the Western Australian Government have recently introduced a BAL Rating system for Perth.
This system is designed to help identify the level of bushfire protection that buildings in designated bushfire-prone areas have.
- BAL assessment
- Does a BAL rating apply to you
- Bushfire Attack Levels
- BAL report
- BAL Assessor accreditation
The rating system is based on a scale from BAL-Low to BAL-FZ (Flame Zone).
The BAS has also developed a set of guidelines for builders and developers to follow when constructing buildings in bushfire-prone areas.
These guidelines include the use of fire-resistant materials, proper construction techniques, and the installation of appropriate safety measures.
The BAL Rating system is an important tool for helping to ensure that buildings in bushfire-prone areas are built to a high standard of safety and protection.
The legislation is designed to improve the ability of buildings in designated bushfire-prone areas to better withstand attack from bushfires also helps to provide peace of mind to those living in these areas, as they can be assured that their homes are built to a high standard of fire protection.
The BAL is determined by a site-specific assessment taking into consideration factors such as the slope of the land, types of surrounding vegetation and its proximity to other buildings or structures.
A Bushfire Attack Level Assessment is required to determine the fire risk of a proposed structure or dwelling.
A BPAD Accredited Level 1 Practitioner must perform the site assessment and classify vegetation in accordance with Australian Standard 3959-2009 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas.
It is beneficial to have the Asset Protection Zone (APZ) clear of all fuels before the Bushfire Consultant arrives, as this can affect the BAL Rating.
In Perth, the BAL Rating is determined by the Fire Danger Index (FDI) of the area. The FDI is calculated based on a combination of factors such as temperature, wind speed, and fuel moisture.
The BAL Rating is then determined by the FDI and the type of vegetation on the site. The higher the FDI, the higher the BAL Rating will be.
For example, a BAL-40 rating requires a minimum FDI of 40 or higher and a minimum of 2m clearance from all combustible materials.
It is important to note that even if your property has a low FDI, the BAL Rating can still be high due to the type of vegetation on the site.
It is important to consult a professional Bushfire Consultant when determining the BAL Rating of your property.
They will be able to provide advice and guidance on how to reduce the fire risk and ensure that your property meets all relevant regulations.
Does a BAL rating apply to you
In Perth metropolitan areas, most suburbs are classified as BAL-LOW or BAL-12.5. This means that homes in these areas are at low risk of bushfire attacks and require minimal protection.
However, some areas may be classified as BAL-19 or higher, which means that additional measures must be taken to protect the home from bushfire attacks.
It is important to note that a BAL rating does not guarantee safety in a bushfire, but it does provide an indication of the level of risk and what protective measures should be taken.
It is also important to remember that the BAL rating is only one factor in assessing bushfire risk.
Other factors such as topography, vegetation and weather conditions must also be taken into account.
Local Councils throughout Western Australia have conducted research to identify areas at risk of bushfires.
The BAS has also developed a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Map which shows the areas of Perth that are at risk of bushfires.
The BAL Map is available online and can be used to help identify the level of bushfire protection needed for buildings in these areas.
A Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment or a Bushfire Management Plan (BMP) may be required for new home builds, property subdivisions, and shed/extension builds in bushfire-prone areas.
Bushfire Attack Levels
There are six BALs ranging from very low risk (BAL-LOW) to extreme risk (BAL-FZ).
BAL-LOW (Very Low Risk)
This is the lowest level of bushfire attack and indicates that there is no significant risk of a bushfire impacting your property.
BAL-12.5 (Low Risk)
This level indicates that there is a low risk of ember attack, but no risk from radiant heat or direct flame contact.
BAL-19 (Moderate Risk)
This level indicates that there is a moderate risk of ember attack and some risk from radiant heat.
BAL-29 (High Risk)
This level indicates that there is a high risk of ember attack and a significant risk from radiant heat.
BAL-40 (Very High Risk)
This level indicates that there is an extreme risk of ember attack and very high levels of radiant heat.
B AF-FZ (Extreme Risk)
This level indicates that there is an extreme risk of ember attack and very high levels of radiant heat. It also indicates that there is a risk of direct flame contact.
In Perth, the majority of properties are rated as BAL-LOW or BAL-12.5, with some areas having higher ratings such as BAL-19 or BAL
The BAL rating is determined by the Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia (FESA) and is based on factors such as the vegetation type, slope, distance to bushland, and other relevant factors, this will all determine what construction requirements must be met in order to comply with building regulations.
It contains information such as:
Firefighting access and water supply
Information about the firefighting access and water supply that are available in the area. This is important as it will help to ensure that the building and surrounding properties are adequately protected in the event of a bushfire.
Bushland & property vegetation
The report also includes information about the distance to bushland and property vegetation type and classification in the area. This is important as it will help to determine the risk of a bushfire spreading to the property.
The report also includes information about the construction requirements that must be met in order to comply with building regulations. This is important as it will help to ensure that the building is adequately protected in the event of a bush.
Effective slope assessment BAL report Perth WA
The effective slope assessment is an important part of the BAL report. This assessment will determine the risk of a bushfire spreading to the property based on the average slope of the land and how it affects fire behaviour.
Imagery and justifications Site assessment and Satelite images like (Google Maps & Nearmaps)
Imagery and justifications are essential components of a BAL rating assessment in Perth. The use of satellite images such as Google Maps and Nearmaps can provide an accurate picture of the area being assessed, allowing for a more detailed analysis.
Google Maps provides high-resolution aerial imagery that can be used to identify features such as vegetation, buildings, roads, water bodies, and other landforms.
Nearmaps also provide high-resolution aerial imagery, but with the added benefit of being able to view the area in 3D. This can be used to identify features such as slope, aspect, and other terrain characteristics that can affect the risk of bushfire attacks.
Exposure to radiant heat
The report also includes information about the exposure to radiant heat from a bushfire. This is important as it will help to determine the risk of a bushfire spreading to the property and how it can affect the building and its occupants.
Finally, the report will include information about any additional fire protection measures that may be necessary for the property. This could include installing sprinklers, fire retardant materials, or other measures.
BAL Assessor accreditation
The State Government has developed a framework for the accreditation and training of Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Assessors and bushfire planning consultants.
The framework provides guidance for organisations that are seeking to become accrediting bodies and provide accreditation schemes for bush fire planning consultants in Western Australia.
The BAL Assessor accreditation is designed to ensure that individuals have the necessary skills and qualifications to accurately assess the risk of bushfires in their area.
The BAL Assessor accreditation is based on the Australian Standard AS3959-2009, which sets out the requirements for assessing bushfire attack levels.
The accreditation requires individuals to have a minimum of two years’ experience in bushfire planning and risk assessment, as well as a relevant tertiary qualification.
In addition, applicants must complete an approved training course and pass an examination to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the Australian Standard.
In Perth, there are several organisations that offer BAL Assessor accreditation, including the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA), the Institute of Fire Engineers Australia (IFE) and the Bushfire Planning Consultants Association (BPCA).