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Understanding BAL Bushfire Ratings | Building Necessities and Security Screens

The heat and the dryness of the Australian summer make much of our country a tinderbox, and highly prone to bush fires. They occur annually, across all states in the commonwealth, and are a force to be reckoned with. Every year, many homes and businesses fall victim to these fast-moving flames.

At SP Screens, our Secureview Eclipx screens have been built to help a home withstand the rigours of bushfire season. They provide a tough, heat-resistant barrier to ember attacks and burning debris, both among the most dangerous elements of a bushfire. Deciding on whether or not to equip your home with these screens is obviously the choice of the homeowner. However, a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment provides a method of measuring the severity of the risk posed by bushfires in your area.

The Bushfire Attack Level (BAL)

The BAL measures a building’s potential exposure to a variety of bushfire dangers, including ember attack, radiant heat, and contact with direct flames. Put simply, the greater the distance from the fire, the lower the heat flux, and the lower the standard of construction that is required.

The scale runs from Low, indicating insufficient risk to require construction requirements, all the way to 40. Past that, FZ indicates direct exposure to flames, and highly specific building requirements are needed to ensure the survival of a home during a bushfire. At this point, remediation methods are often recommended, such as cutting back surrounding vegetation, reducing the flammability of household items and construction materials, and putting a stop to ember attacks and flying debris with security screens.

Building Materials

Contrary to what many believe, wood as a building material is not ruled out for bushfire-prone areas. However, any wood, and any material used here, must be treated to be able to withstand the onslaught of radiant heat, without bursting in to flame. Masonry, stone, and brick are of lesser concern, although they will often feature wooden framing, roofing, and accents which will require attention.

BAL FZ – Fire Zone

At the highest end of the scale, special building requirements are called for, due to the danger of radiant heat, and direct flames. These situations call for such building elements as radiant heat barriers, the removal of potential sources of ignition on or inside the house, and modifications to both the house itself, and the property surrounding it.

Our long history in coping with bushfires in Australia has encouraged the use of such metrics as the BAL rating system. Homes with the potential to burn during a bushfire endanger both the residents, and the potential rescuers, but these risks can be remediated with good design and building strategies. For more information on how security screens can provide a measure of bushfire protection to your home, contact SP Screens.