How to Prepare Your Home for Bushfire Season
As bushfire season approaches, preparations are made across Australia to protect homes and families, following the tips and guidelines put out by fire departments. There has also been an increased focus on bushfire safety during the building and renovating process. There are numerous measures you can take to help bushfire proof home once you’ve determined your level of bushfire risk.
Understanding BAL classifications
Bushfire Attack level, or BAL, refers to your level of bushfire risk and also affects your development requirements – the higher the risk, the more protection you need. Your level of bushfire risk is affected by the area you live, the vegetation, the distance from the vegetation to your home, and the slope.
Bushfire protection is the way that certain buildings and homes, located in bushfire prone areas, are built to withstand ember attacks, radiant heat and direct flame contact. The Australian Standard AS3959-2009, ‘Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas’ specifies the requirements of each BAL classification.
As part of your building process, you will need to confirm your BAL in a written report. This can be completed by your fire department or a bush fire consultant.
How do I find out my BAL rating?
Your local council can provide you with the BAL rating of your property. It’s important to know if your home falls under any of BAL’s classifications so that you can take appropriate measures to mitigate your bushfire risk.
There are six classifications of the level of bushfire risk:
BAL Low – very low risk
There is not enough risk to have specific building requirements, but there still may be some hazard.
BAL 12.5 – low risk
‘Protection from ember attack and radiant heat up to and including 12.5kW/m2’. This means there is some risk of ember attack.
BAL 19 – moderate risk
‘Protection from ember attack and radiant heat greater than 12.5kW/m2 up to and including 19kW/m2’. This means there is risk of ember attack and burning debris, which could be worsened by wind borne embers. It is also likely to be exposed to radiant heat.
BAL 29 – high risk
‘Protection from ember attack and radiant heat greater than 19kW.m2 up to and including 29kW/m2’. This means there is a higher risk of ember attack and burning debris, as well as a greater level of exposure to a high level of radiant heat.
BAL 40 – very high risk
‘Protection from ember attack, increased likelihood of flame contact and radiant heat greater than 29kW/m2 up to and including 40kW/m2’. This means that the risk of an ember attack is quite high, as well as the burning debris ignited by windborne embers. There is also a strong chance of exposure to high level radiant heat and fire flames.
BAL FZ – extreme risk
‘Protection from flame contact, together with ember attack and radiant heat of more than 40kW/m2’. This means that the risk of ember attack and ignited burning debris is extremely high, as well as an increased risk of exposure to flames and levels of radiant heat.
Futureproof your home with bushfire screens
Installing SecureView bushfire screens is one of the most important things you can do to prepare your home from bushfires. These screens are designed to keep embers and flames from entering the home, and also protect windows from radiant heat.
The screens and mesh are made from special non-combustible materials, and to be effective they must comply with the Australian Standards AS3954-2009 up to BAL 40. They also have to be properly installed, minding the gap you leave between the screen frame and the area to be covered (it cannot be more than 2mm).
Window Screen Requirements
|BAL LOW||Standard flyscreens and security screens may be used at this level. |
|BAL 12.5, 19, 40, FZ||Openable parts of the window to be screened with metal mesh with a maximum aperture of 2 mm, made from steel, bronze or aluminium.|
Bushfire preparation tips for your home and garden
Besides building or updating your home to bushfire protection standards, there are a range of home and maintenance tasks to minimise your home’s risk from bushfire. NSW RFS has put together a list of maintenance tips to help you prepare for a bushfire.
- Clean your gutters of leaves and twigs
- Install metal gutter guards
- Repair damaged or missing tiles on the roof
- Install fine metal mesh screens on windows and doors
- Fit seals around doors and windows to eliminate gaps
- Enclose the areas under the house
- Repair or cover gaps in external walls
- Attach a fire sprinkler system to gutters
- Keep lawns short and gardens well maintained
- Cut back trees and shrubs overhanging buildings
- Clean up fallen leaves, twigs and debris around the property
- Have hoses long enough to reach around your house
- If you have a pool, tank or dam, put a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign on your property entrance, so firefighters know where they can get water
- Check and maintain adequate levels of home and contents insurance. Ensure it is up to date.
Taking the necessary measures to prepare your home for bushfire season is crucial, especially if you live in a bushfire prone area. Being informed and learning about bushfire safety can make a real difference in protecting your home, and may even help to save a life.
Our SecureView security screens have also been independently tested to comply with Bushfire Protection AS3954-2009 (BAL) 12.5,19,29,40. Contact us to see how we can keep you and your family safe, whether it be from fire, ember, radiant heat, intruders, or insects. Because when it comes to the safety of you and your family, you can never be too cautious.