The State Government of Western Australia has announced future building reforms for homes built in bushfire-prone regions, with reforms applicable to building permits issued from 8 April 2016.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has produced a map of the state identifying bushfire-prone areas and bushfire hazard assessments will be required for all new homes built within applicable regions.
Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis says the reforms are intended to limit the damage made to communities during bushfire season, with the aim of saving property and increasing safety in the event of future fires.
“Western Australia has suffered tragic losses from bushfires recently and while we will never eliminate the risk, we can all take action to reduce it and improve the chance of survival and protect property,” Francis says.
“If you are planning to build a new house in a bushfire-prone area, these reforms will guide you through the steps you need to take to help keep your family safe.”
“The new bushfire-prone area map will become a critical part of emergency services’ operations,” Francis adds.
Planning Minister John Day says the assessment is intended to identify the level of bushfire resistance required of construction standards, as identified in the Building Code of Australia.
“These standards are used across Australia and already apply in some WA local government areas including Armadale, Busselton, Kalamunda, Mundaring and Cockburn,” Day says.
Construction standards could include the placement of ember screens over evaporative air-conditioning units, window screens, the use of non-combustible or reduced-risk building materials, and the sealing of walls, eaves and roofs.
The DFES will update the bushfire-prone areas map on a yearly basis and a four-month transition period will apply to bushfire building and planning requirements in new regions identified as hazardous.
The reforms come in the wake of the recent bushfires in WA, which killed four people and caused significant damage to the rural sector.