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Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Ratings: What You Need to Know for Your Granny Flat, Shed, or Studio

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Trees and grass burning in a bushfire

In Australia, Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings are used to assess the level of risk a building may face in a bushfire-prone area. If you are contemplating the construction of a granny flat, shed, or studio in such a location, it is crucial to be aware of the following information. These structures are typically smaller in size compared to traditional homes and may not meet the same bushfire safety standards. The applicable BAL rating for your property would have implications on the building materials, building location, approval process for your project, and thus the project costs.

What is a BAL Rating?

The BAL rating is based on the radiant heat flux (in kilowatts per square metre) that a building is expected to experience during a bushfire.

There are six BAL ratings

  • BAL Low: Lowest risk from a potential fire.

  • BAL 12.5: Risk is primarily from potential embers during a fire.

  • BAL 19: Moderate risk, particularly from embers and burning debris.

  • BAL 29: High risk, particularly from embers, debris and heat.

  • BAL 40: Very high risk. Likely to be impacted by embers, debris, heat and potentially flames.

  • BAL FZ: Extreme risk. Directly exposed to the flames of a potential firefront.

Information about BAL ratings taken from: NSW RURAL FIRE SERVICE

How to Check if Your Granny Flat, Shed, or Studio is in Bushfire Prone Land

You can check if your granny flat, shed, or studio is in bushfire-prone land by visiting the websites below according to the state that you are in.

Here are steps on how to determine the BAL rating for your property:
  1. Check planning websites. Planning websites will identify geographic areas that are bushfire-prone. You can find the planning website for your state or territory by searching online.

  2. Check your property planning certificate. Your property planning certificate will confirm whether your property is bushfire-prone. You can find your property planning certificate by contacting your local council.

  3. If your property is bushfire-prone, you will need to engage a bushfire consultant to determine the BAL rating for the proposed building project. The BAL rating is a measure of the level of bushfire risk for a particular property. The higher the BAL rating, the greater the risk of bushfires. The bush fire consultant will assess the risks to your property and recommend the appropriate BAL rating.

Bushfire Prone Areas in Australia: A Forecast for the Future

A 2019 briefing paper by the Climate Council, titled "This Is Not Normal", found that global warming is expected to cause the number of bushfire-prone areas in Australia to increase by 15-70% by 2050. The briefing paper cited two studies that support this finding:

  • A 2005 study by Hennessy et al., found that the number of "very high" or "extreme" fire days in Australia could increase by 4-25% by 2020, and by 15-70% by 2050.

  • A 2007 study by The Australia Institute, found that climate change is already making bushfires more frequent and intense in Australia.

The briefing paper also noted that the bushfires of 2019-20, which were Australia's worst on record, were a clear indication of the increasing threat posed by climate change. The fires caused widespread damage and destruction, and claimed the lives of 33 people.

A bushfire taking place on a mountainside

The findings of the Climate Council briefing paper show that climate change is already having a significant impact on Australia, including more extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and more frequent and intense bushfires.

Here are some other ways to reduce the risk of bushfires in Australia:

  • Improve fire management: This includes better fuel management, early warning systems, and fire suppression capabilities.

  • Build more resilient communities: This includes making homes and infrastructure more fire-resistant, and planning for evacuations.

  • Educate the public about bushfire safety: This includes teaching people how to prevent fires, and how to stay safe if a fire occurs.

By taking these steps, we can help to protect Australia from the devastating effects of bushfires.

Building Advice for Granny Flats, Sheds, and Studios in Bushfire Prone Land

If you are considering building a granny flat, shed, or studio in bushfire-prone land, there are a number of things you can do to protect it from bushfires. These include:

  • Building to BAL standards

  • Using fire-resistant materials

  • Clearing vegetation around the structure

  • Installing a fireproof fence

  • Installing a sprinkler system

  • Having a bushfire survival plan

Bibo Build Modular Homes Can Be Constructed in Bushfire Prone Land

Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings are an important tool for homeowners and builders in Australia. By understanding the BAL rating for your property, you can take steps to protect your granny flat, shed, or studio from bushfires. Bibo Build Studios is a great option for homeowners in bushfire-prone land. Bibo Build constructs using fire-resistant materials and our structures are designed to withstand the high winds and radiant heat of bushfires. Contact us today if you are looking for a safe and secure granny flat, shed, or studio in bushfire-prone land.

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