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$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Assisting the bushfire rebuild process

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has commenced a project to help streamline the planning process for those who lost their homes in the 2019-20 bushfires and to assist them with rebuilding.

Planning the bushfire recovery

The NSW RFS project includes:

  • developing Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) mapping for affected areas, which will cover most of the dwelling lost, meaning a site-specific assessment for a BAL certificate may not be needed
  • providing BAL certificates for all other sites where the BAL mapping does not cover
  • support BAL-capping for certain sites. This means some sites that would normally be BAL-FZ can rebuild to BAL-40 so long as certain conditions are met. 

How will BAL-capping work?

Wherever possible the RFS will encourage that the new building be built further away from the hazard or that larger Asset Protection Zones (APZs) be included in the development to lower the hazard to BAL-40. 

In circumstances where this cannot be achieved the BAL can be ‘capped’ at BAL-40 provided the following criteria is met:

  • Providing a defendable space to enable access for firefighting around the building
  • Providing access, services and landscaping to aid fire-fighting operations
  • Not being located closer to the bushfire hazard than the previous dwelling footprint
  • Providing improved APZs
  • Providing improved on-site water supplies
  • Providing safe design, installation and maintenance of gas storage and piping systems
  • Providing a bushfire protection management plan and commitment to ongoing maintenance of bushfire protection features
  • Committing to and providing a Bushfire Survival Plan.

Why provide BAL-capping?

Building to BAL-FZ can cost 25–50% more than a standard dwelling depending on the type and size of the home. Providing this more flexible option may provide some relief for those rebuilding.

What about insurance?

It is not known what impact, if any, this approach could have on insurance premiums. It is recommended that each individual consult with their insurance broker for more information. 

Can anyone use BAL-capping?

No, only people rebuilding their homes that were lost in the 2019–20 bushfires.

Who approves BAL-capping?

The RFS is not a Consent Authority so you will need approval from your local council to take advantage of this BAL-capping. However, councils generally seek the RFS’ advice for any approvals that are in BAL-FZ or BAL-40. While it is the council that must approve this approach, it will likely be done under the guidance of the RFS.

For further information regarding this document, contact the NSW RFS on 1300 NSW RFS (1300 679 737) or via email.

To find out more, contact HIA’s Building Services team.

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