New fire code for build­ings

Pilbara News - - Property - Dianne Gil­le­land

Over the past few years, Vic­to­ria, New South Wales and West­ern Aus­tralia have ex­pe­ri­enced some dev­as­tat­ing fires with the un­for­tu­nate loss of lives, as well as the loss of pets, live­stock and prop­erty.

Some of the large fires were de­lib­er­ately lit. But re­gard­less of how the fire started, once it takes hold, it is un­pre­dictable and can be­come out of con­trol quickly.

In ar­eas with larger lot sizes, such as semi-ru­ral and ru­ral ar­eas, and va­cant lots in res­i­den­tial ar­eas, own­ers must main­tain the land to re­duce the bush­fire risk to sur­round­ing prop­erty. Slash­ing veg­e­ta­tion on the site or pro­vid­ing a fire­break around the prop­erty be­fore bush­fire sea­son is re­quired.

Own­ers of land who do not cut veg­e­ta­tion on va­cant land or meet the fire­break re­quire­ments of the Bush Fire Act can be fined by local government.

There are now a num­ber of des­ig­nated bush­fire-prone ar­eas in our State in met­ro­pol­i­tan and re­gional ar­eas.

Build­ings in th­ese ar­eas must be con­structed to re­duce the risk of the spread of fire.

The as­sess­ment of th­ese build­ings is based on a num­ber of risk fac­tors, in­clud­ing prox­im­ity to veg­e­ta­tion, type of veg­e­ta­tion close to the build­ing, and the slope of the land.

The con­struc­tion of a build­ing in a bush­fire-prone area places ad­di­tional costs to the con­struc­tion of a stan­dard fam­ily home.

Th­ese costs can vary, how­ever, and can be more than $7000.

If you are con­sid­er­ing a tree change, it is im­por­tant you check the re­quire­ments of the local au­thor­ity for con­struc­tion in the area, as it is likely there will be ad­di­tional costs as­so­ci­ated with build­ing a new home or ren­o­vat­ing or ex­tend­ing an ex­ist­ing one. More clar­ity on the ap­pli­ca­tion of th­ese higher stan­dards is nec­es­sary for the build­ing in­dus­try and con­sumers.

Po­ten­tial buy­ers must be made aware of the costs as­so­ci­ated for con­struc­tion and man­age­ment of their land and build­ings.

The bush­fire-prone ar­eas are not unique to re­gional WA, but many are creep­ing closer to the ur­ban fringe.

The Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices has de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on re­duc­ing the fire risk of your home, in­clud­ing prun­ing plans, re­mov­ing leaf lit­ter, and safe stor­age of flammable goods. Visit their web­site at www.dfes.wa.gov.au for more in­for­ma­tion. Dianne Gil­le­land is the Mas­ter Builders As­so­ci­a­tion’s Mid WestNorth West re­gional man­ager.

Pic­ture: Jas­min Bam­ford

Bush­fires have reg­u­larly threat­ened Hed­land res­i­den­tial and ru­ral prop­er­ties and new build­ing codes for bush­fire-prone ar­eas aim to re­duce the risks.

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