Older homes25 Mar
We should not forget about better preparing our older homes and communities for a bushfire
Today we have bushfire hazard mapping which identifies areas potentially at risk to bushfire. Where new sites and subdivisions are proposed in bushfire hazard areas compliance with the Australian Standard for the construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas (AS 3959-2009) and bushfire planning and design principles are mandated by local government to reduce the vulnerability of buildings to bushfire risk and ensure adequate provisions are made for property access, evacuation routes and water supply for fire-fighting.
But what about older homes that pre-date mapping of bushfire hazard areas, AS 3959 and codes of compliance for building in bushfire hazard areas?
In some situations, the bushfire risk to these homes could be unacceptably high and their vulnerability to bushfire risk could be increasing due to climate change effects that could lead to significant increases in the incidence and intensity of bushfires in Australia.
Retrofitting our older homes for better protection is a step towards making older homes safer against the impact of embers and radiant heat in the event of a bushfire and could mitigate against the significant pressure on our ability to manage climate change-effects over time as more people seek out rural and natural living environments.
Retrofitting is not mandatory, each feature can be applied depending on individual needs and the level of fire protection desired. But if you want a home to be comparable to the construction requirements under AS 3959-2009, then a bushfire attack level (BAL) assessment is required and all the works associated with the BAL category will need to be undertaken.
Routine maintenance is also an important part of bushfire protection for older homes, outbuildings and gardens. For example, if weather strips are fitted to your doors, they need to be securely fastened and working properly at the time of a bushfire threat just like your fire equipment needs to be ready to go.