Bushfire & My Development

Much of the City of Busselton has been identified as ‘bushfire prone’. Where your property is located within a bushfire prone area, there will be additional steps to follow when you develop your property.  

State Planning Policy 3.7 ‘Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas’ (SPP 3.7) and the associated ‘Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas’ direct how land use should address bushfire risk management in Western Australia.

Top Tip

Development can include changing how the land is used, and doesn’t always require the construction of something new.

Is My Property Bushfire Prone? 

To find out if your property is bushfire prone, view the Bushfire Prone Area Map via the DFES website.

If your property is highlighted pink on the map, its ‘bushfire prone’.

Visit the DFES website. 

Please view the below information to gain a better understanding about bushfire management and your property. 

What is a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL)?

A Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) report measures the severity of a building's potential exposure to bushfire. This can be by way of ember attack, radiant heat or direct flame contact. The report considers a number of factors, including vegetation types and distance to buildings, to determine the relevant BAL rating. 

A BAL report is often required for development within a bushfire prone area prior to consideration of a Development Application or a Building Permit. In most circumstances, the highest acceptable rating is BAL-29. In instances where the rating is BAL-40 or BAL-FZ, or vegetation needs to be modified to achieve a lower BAL rating, a Bushfire Management Plan (BMP) is usually required to support development.

To find out more, view our Bushfire Prone Areas Information Sheet

What is a Bushfire Management Plan (BMP)?

A Bushfire Management Plan (BMP) is a comprehensive document that sets out risk management strategies for a property. A BMP is required to address any bushfire hazard issues arising from a BAL assessment and to assess development against the bushfire protection criteria in the Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas.

View the Guidelines for Planning in Bushfire Prone Areas 

A BMP is required in a number of circumstances, including, but not limited to:

  • Residential development with a rating of BAL-40 or BAL-FZ
  • Vulnerable Land Uses (see below)
  • Where vegetation modification is required to achieve a lower BAL rating
  • Certain other land uses, such as Service Stations.

Once approved by the City, the recommendations of a BMP are to be implemented and maintained for the life of the development.

To find out more, view our Bushfire Prone Areas Information Sheet.

What is a Vulnerable Land Use?

‘Vulnerable Land Use’ relates to land uses where persons may be less able to respond in a bushfire emergency. 

This may include land uses such as:

  • Aged care accommodation
  • Education and childcare centres
  • Holiday homes
  • Reception Centre, Brewery, Winery and other tourism land uses.

Vulnerable land uses with a rating of BAL-12.5 or above will require a BMP and an Emergency Evacuation Plan (EEP) to be prepared by a Level 3 Accredited Bushfire Practitioner (see below).

To find out more, view our Bushfire Prone Areas Information Sheet.

Development Application Requirements

To find out more, view our Bushfire Prone Areas Information Sheet.

Building in a Bushfire Prone Area

The Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) rating determines the minimum standard of construction for residential development. 

Details on each BAL rating can be found in the Australian Standard AS3959 which is currently available as a free PDF download.

For an overview of AS3959 see our Summary Sheet – Residential Construction Requirements (All BAL Levels).

Some minor developments are exempt from meeting the BAL construction standard. To find out more, view our Bushfire Prone Areas Information Sheet.

Bushfire Planning Practitioners

BAL and BMP reports are required to be prepared by a suitably Accredited Bushfire Planning Practitioner.  There are three levels of assessors who are accredited to undertake different activities.

Broadly, the different levels are able to:

Level 1 Assessor              Undertake a Method 1 BAL assessment

Level 2 Assessor              Undertake Bushfire Hazard Level assessments, develop BAL contour maps, develop certain BMP’s (+ Level 1)

Level 3 Assessor              Method 1 or 2 BAL assessments, BMP’s & EEP’s for all land uses, including vulnerable land uses and where the BAL rating is BAL-40 or BAL-FZ, Bushfire Risk Management Plans and Risk Assessments (+Level 2)

The Fire Protection Association of Australia has a register of accredited people who you can contact.

Bushfire Legislation Links

State Planning Policy 3.7

LPP 4.2 Bushfire

Other Bushfire Requirements

Landowners must maintain their property to reduce fuel loadings. These requirements are detailed in the Firebreak and Fuel Hazard Reduction Notice sent out with the rates notices each year, and apply to all properties.

Each property is assigned a ‘category’ which details ongoing obligations for that property type. The Rangers Team inspect select properties every fire season to ensure compliance.

Site specific BMP’s may detail additional measures which also need to be complied with.

For further fire and emergency services information, including links to the Annual Firebreak and Fuel Hazard reduction notice please review the Fire and Emergency Services webpage.

Related Information

Annual Bushfire Inspections

Develop My Property

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