AS3959

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AS3959 is an Australian Standard for construction of homes in bushfire prone zones. The latest version AS3959:2009 was hurried into release after the devastation of "Black Saturday" bushfires, which killed 173 people and destroyed over 2,000 homes.

The latest release of AS3959 has significant changes, bringing major changes to construction of homes to be built in the future. Under this new standard all proposed building requires the builder or landowner to undergo a BAL (Bushfire Attack Level) Assessment. This requires a report tabled to establish the threat of bushfire on this future proposed dwelling. The report takes in matters such as the area FDI (Fire Danger Index), the block's ground slope, vegetation type and density to determine the intensity of fire attack, split into 6 levels. The six levels relate to the intensity of Radiant Heat exposure, with the levels being BAL-LOW (no threat or construction changes needed), BAL-12.5 (Radiant Heat levels would calculate 12.5 kW/m²), BAL-19 (19 kW/m²), BAL-29 (29 kW/m²), BAL-40 (40 kW/m²) and BAL-FZ (Flame Zone, which can be as high as 100 kW/m²). AS3959:2009 therefore instructs what changes and test methods are required for construction to comply to the BAL Assessed levels. AS3959:2009 from 1 May 2010 has been adopted as part of the BCA (Building Code Of Australia).

Copies of Australian Standards such as AS3959 are available from SAI Global, or see organisations such as the Victorian Building Authority, Victorian Country Fire Authority or the NSW Rural Fire Service for further information and guidelines on this subject.

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