In late January and February 2009 a series of devastating bushfires swept through parts of Victoria resulting in significant loss of life. Subsequently, the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission (VBRC) was established to investigate the cause and responses to the bushfires. The VBRC delivered an Interim Report in August 2009 and a Final Report in July 2010. The Final Report contained 67 recommendations with Recommendation 48 being directed at the ABCB. The VBRC final report can be viewed by clicking here. Recommendation 48 proposed that the ABCB –
- amend the performance requirements in the BCA to ensure that they incorporate reducing the risk of ignition from ember attack;
- work with Standards Australia to expedite the review and ongoing development of AS 3959, Construction of Buildings in Bushfire-prone Areas, and other bushfire-related standards referred to in the BCA;
- negotiate with Standards Australia and SAI Global Ltd an arrangement for free online access to AS 3959-2009, the other Australian standards referred to in AS 3959, and any other bushfire-related Standards referred to in the BCA;
- amend the BCA to remove Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions for the construction of buildings in BAL-FZ; and
- include in the BCA bushfire construction provisions for non-residential buildings that will be occupied by people who are particularly vulnerable to bushfire attack, such as schools, child care centres, hospitals and aged care facilities.
In response to Recommendation 48, the ABCB -
- published a ‘Performance Standard for Private Bushfire Shelters’. Selected acceptance criteria referenced within the Standard have been the subject of commissioned research. The Performance Standard for Private Bushfire Shelters can be viewed by clicking here. The research papers for Human Trials to Evaluate Thermal Performance Specifications for Private Bushfire Shelters can be viewed by clicking on the following links: Part One, Part Two and Part Three;
- amended the NCC Volume One and Two Performance Requirements to incorporate a requirement to reduce the risk of ignition from ember attack;
- continues to work with Standards Australia on the development of AS 3959, Construction of Buildings in Bushfire-prone Areas, and other bushfire-related standards referred to in the NCC; and
- In the interim, the ABCB has limited numbers of free hard copies of AS 3959 and the Handbook (HB 330-2009: Living in bushfire-prone areas) available. The Handbook is a guide to reducing the threat and impact of bushfire attack and provides an explanation of the basis of AS 3959. Please contact the ABCB Customer Service Centre on 1300 134 631or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.
Work is continuing on the other parts of Recommendation 48.
Additionally, the ABCB has collaborated wiith the Victorian Government, in particular the Victorian Fire Commissioner, to publish a Handbook for the design and construction of Community Bushfire Refuges. You can view the Design and Construction of Community Bushfire Refuges Handbook by clicking here.