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Housing : June 2009
Bushfire Recovery rebuilding after Black Saturday The fires that swept Victoria earlier this year have brought about important changes to building regulations. Nassim Khadem reports. T heVictorian Bushfires Royal Commission has the colossal task of investigating the causes, circumstances and responses to the tragic Black Saturday bushfires. HIA has presented a formal written submission to the Commission which addresses an array of factors that affect building in bushfire-prone areas, including building standards, appropriate land zoning, subdivision designs, vegetation management and buffer zones. In the interim, members who wish to start rebuilding or make alterations and additions may have to adhere to new, tougher bushfire protection building standards. A newAustralian Standard – AS3959-Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas-2009 – was adopted on 5March by theAustralian Building Codes Board for use in any state that wishes to implement it. To date it has been adopted byVictoria and theACT. The standard was the result of scientific research and expert consultation. It underwent a formal regulatory impact statement (RIS), conducted by theABCB which examined the costs and benefits of three different flame temperatures. Members who wish to start rebuilding or make alterations and additions may have to adhere to new, tougher bushfire protection building standards Following the February bushfires that destroyed thousands of homes and communities acrossVictoria, the Victorian Government moved quickly to ensure that rebuilding could start, and adoptedAS3959-2009 inMarch. HIA anticipates other states will follow suit byMay 2010 when it will be incorporated into the Building Code of Australia. The new standard is based on a flame temperature of 1090°Kelvin (approximately 816°C). This was the highest of the three flame temperature levels addressed in the RIS. The extra cost associated with meeting this higher standard will vary depending on the level of bushfire attack affecting a particular site. Photo courtesy CFA Public Affairs 10 HOUSING JUNE 2009