Every Australian is familiar with the damage wrought by bushfires on a regular basis. The world’s driest inhabited continent is home to massive swaths of oil-rich eucalyptus bush, and as the summers get hotter every year the risk of fire crawls ever higher. Bushfires can result in massive loss of life and damage to property, devastating entire communities around the nation every year. There have been countless destructive bushfires that raged for days on end over the past decade, and it’s every Australian’s responsibility to do their bit to prevent bushfires and to minimise their potential damage.
In colder months, preventative burns are performed in forested areas to slow bushfires when they occur, and in warmer months total fire bans are imposed on communities around the country. Unfortunately, sometimes this isn’t enough, which is why Western Australians must comply with Bush Fire Attack Level standards.
BAL stands for Bush Fire Attack Level, and the standards it dictates are designed to prevent the damage wrought by bushfires. Since 2009, buildings must comply with BAL regulations in bushfire-prone areas. Local councils are increasingly enforcing these rules, watching builders and homeowners like hawks to ensure that bushfires are stopped in their tracks and that their onslaught is slowed by BAL-compliant homes and buildings.
The legislation on Bush Fire Attack Level (BAL) compliance in Perth dictates that all new homes must be assessed so as to determine their risk in the event of a bushfire. The main risks to properties in the midst of a raging fire are ember attack and heat flux. Ember attack occurs when blazing embers from the bushfire stand to set flammable elements of the home on fire, which can destroy an entire home and its contents in minutes, regardless of whether or not its inhabitants are inside. Heat flux involves rapid, enormous changes in the ambient temperature, which can shatter windows, distort support beams and crack stone foundations. Bushfires in Australia, as they use hot-burning eucalyptus oil as their primary fuel, burn more than hot enough to decimate a standard home, and BAL-compliant homes need to be above and beyond the ordinary integrity of your average Aussie home.
The Compliance Levels
BAL levels indicate the severity of the impact of a bushfire on the home and its inhabitants. If you live in a particularly fire-prone area, at the top of a slope or surrounded by flammable trees, your home will likely require a higher BAL compliance rating. Homes that have a BAL rating over 12.5 require specific, legislation-determined construction methods in order to stay safe. When you have such a high BAL rating, anything less than the best simply won’t do when the sun comes out and fires start clawing their way up the hill.
BAL inspections are a great way of ensuring that your home is not only BAL-compliant, but that you’re getting what you paid for in terms of your BAL compliance. It can be expensive to protect your home against fire with gauze flyscreens and sealed timbers, and you want to enlist the services of an experienced professional BAL inspector to ensure that you got what you paid for with your compliance.