Upgraded building standards for bushfire areas in final stage

Standards Australia said the revised measures specify improvements aimed at better equipping buildings to withstand bushfires, providing occupants with more protection. Committee members at Standards Australia are set to vote this week on the final standard, with an approved document expected to be ready for consideration by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) on March 5, 2009, for adoption in the Building Code of Australia. “The revised standard is a significant improvement on current requirements. It covers assessment of the risk of bushfire attack and outlines construction requirements for buildings in designated bushfire-prone areas,” Standards Australia chief executive officer John Tucker said. The body said the improvements on the existing standard include:the inclusion of requirements for six construction safety levels (up from three) ranging from low to extreme;
two options for determining the level of bushfire attack in a particular area;
refinement of test methods for construction materials used in bushfire-prone areas, based on AS 1503.8;
improved ember protection measures such as optional window shutters for designated areas; and
provisions for non-exposed facades and attached structures such as garages.
“While the standard sets out the technical means of how to arrive at an appropriate level of bushfire attack and the subsequent construction requirements, it is a matter for governments to regulate when and where a particular attack level is applied and the associated cost-benefit balance,” Tucker said. Standards Australia said it expects the outcomes from the Victorian government’s Royal Commission into the February bushfires will help the committee to improve subsequent editions of the standard.

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