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Building for Bushfire

BUILDING FOR BUSHFIRE


Tasmania is well known for being bushfire-prone. There is a history of infrequent but severe bushfires which have destroyed much property and infrastructure as well as injuring and killing people. There have also been many smaller and less damaging fires that are more local in their effects. The map shows most of the areas burnt in bushfires in the 16 fire seasons to June 2013: clearly bushfires occur in all parts of Tasmania.



As a result of the widespread bushfire threat in Tasmania, development and building controls have been introduced for those wishing to live or work inside or beside the bush. These controls have requirements which need to be met when a planning application is made for sites in bushfire-prone areas and also when building work is to be undertaken in bushfire-prone areas.

The requirements can include:
     • Maintaining the area around buildings with minimal bushfire fuel;
     • Constructing buildings of fire resistant materials and providing ember proofing;
     • Having appropriate access to and from the site; and
     • Having an appropriate water supply for fire fighting.
 

The new controls will ensure that new buildings in bushfire prone areas will have a minimum level of fire resistance which is appropriate to the bushfire risk. The new controls apply only to new development or works: they are not retrospective (although people wishing to voluntarily upgrade their properties may choose to adopt the safety measures for themselves).
 

A brochure titled Building for Bushfire has been prepared which explains the controls which have been progressively introduced since 2009.
 

If you are planning to build in bushfire-prone areas, then a Bushfire Hazard Management Plan (or an Exemption) is needed to document the bushfire safety measures required for councils as well as for building surveyors (as well as future owners). The person who undertakes the assessment, prepares the plan and certifies the Plan (or the Exemption) is called a Bushfire Hazard Practitioner.

A more detailed explanation of the planning requirements for bushfire prone areas is provided in the Tasmanian Planning Commissions’ Planning Advisory Note # 20.

BUSHFIRE HAZARD PRACTITIONERS

Bushfire Hazard Practitioners are accredited by the Chief Officer of the Tasmania Fire Service to provide advice on matters relating to planning and building in bushfire-prone areas. In order to become accredited, Bushfire Hazard Practitioners are trained in understanding how planning and construction relates in vulnerability to bushfires. They are also required to participate in Continuing Professional Development to ensure their work remains best-practice. Bushfire Hazard Practitioners are not employees of the TFS and they charge for their services.

The List of Accredited Persons contains the names and contact information for Bushfire Hazard Assessors. Please note these people do not undertake fire hazard inspections (this is still a local council role).

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A BUSHFIRE HAZARD PRACTITIONER

Accredited Bushfire Hazard Practitioners will generally:

  • Inspect your site and determine the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL);
  • Determine bushfire protection measures;
  • Prepare a bushfire report; and
  • Certify a Bushfire Hazard Management Plan (BHMP), or an exemption to a Plan.

Depending on whether you are planning or building, they will also provide you with:

  • Certification that the BHMP or the Exemption meets the planning requirements of the Bushfire-Prone Areas Code.
  • A Certificate of a Specialist or other person that meets the requirements of the Building Act and Regulations.

If you are interested to see what a Bushfire Hazard Management Plan looks like, Building for Bushfires provides further information, and an example Plan on the last page.

INFORMATION FOR BUSHFIRE HAZARD PRACTITIONERS & REGULATORS

The Form of a Bushfire Hazard Management Plan

The Chief Officer has issued the Form of a Bushfire Hazard Management Plan in Advisory Note 4 to address the requirements of the Fire Service Act 1979 and the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.

BUSHFIRE HAZARD ADVISORY NOTES

From time to time, the Chief Officer will issue Bushfire Advisory Notes. These are to assist practitioners, regulators and others and will cover both technical and policy matters

Advisory Note No. Subject Version and Release Date
1. Advice relating to circumstances for exemption under E1.4(a) v.2; 11/04/14
2. Advice relating to water supply requirements v.2; 11/04/14
3. Advice relating to Polycarbonate sheeting used for roofs in bushfire prone areas v.1; 01/10/14
4. Chief Officer’s Approved Form for a Bushfire Hazard Management Plan v.1; 15/03/16

Bushfire Emergency Planning

TFS has developed a Guideline with a Template for people to use to develop specific bushfire emergency plans for sites other than households. These will generally be used by Bushfire Hazard Practitioners for their clients but will also be of use for existing sites wishing to develop their own Bushfire Emergency Plans.




HOW TO BECOME AN ACCREDITED BUSHFIRE HAZARD PRACTITIONER

The Chief Officer’s Scheme for the Accreditation of Bushfire Hazard Practitioners aims to ensure that the community has access to practitioners with the appropriate training and skills to help people safely develop and live in bushfire prone areas. The Scheme explains the requirements for people to become accredited as Bushfire Hazard Practitioners. The Scheme is administered by the Accreditation Officer who can be contacted at: bfp@fire.tas.gov.au .

As part of the Scheme, most Bushfire Hazard Practitioners are initially provisionally accredited, and participate in a mentoring program until they are fully accredited (generally within a year). This ensures that the provision of bushfire-advice is best-practice.

The Mentoring Program Guidelines describe the mentoring process. If you have any questions about the mentoring program, these should be addressed to the Accreditation Officer.

The next training course has not yet been scheduled. Please contact TasFire Training (tft.admin@fire.tas.gov.au) to be notified when a course is scheduled. The Course Brochure for the last course provides information about a typical course.