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Your Guide to Building in a Bushfire Zone

Firefighters in a fire protection suit wearing firefighter helmet with breathing device and holding fire hose is extinguishing a burning house fire that is putting off excessive heat and smoke.  Fire could have been caused by accident or arson.  Second firefighter in background.

Following what has been dubbed “Black Summer” in 2019 to 2020, it’s natural to be concerned about building in a bushfire zone. Australian bushfires are infamous for being catastrophic, widespread, and hard to contain. It’s a major concern for all Australians.

With this in mind, it’s essential to have a bushfire plan and a bushfire resistant home design to minimise the risk of fire damage. Before building on bushfire prone land, there are a few things you’ll need to consider to increase the strength and durability of your home in a bushfire.

Read on. Montgomery Homes is one of the only NSW home builders who will build in all six bushfire zones and with more than 30 years experience, we know how to build tough, fire resistant homes throughout New South Wales. We can help build a home that’s made to last.

How to check if I'm in a bushfire zone in NSW

Before purchasing a block of land or starting a new home build, it’s important to find out whether or not it’s bushfire prone land.

During the planning process, we can find this information on your behalf, but it’s also possible to get an idea of the fire danger in the area via the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS).

The RFS has an interactive map on their website showing bushfire zones around the state. All you have to do is search the postcode and the RFS will determine whether it’s bushfire prone land.

However, it’s important to note this tool is not 100% accurate - it’s based on council bushfire maps and this can change all the time, depending on the season and possible drought conditions.

How to navigate bushfire zones and development approvals

New home developments on bushfire prone land must meet the requirements of the RFS Planning for Bushfire Protection (PBP) framework.

Under section 100B of the Rural Fires Act 1997, a bushfire safety authority must also be obtained from the NSW Rural Fire Service for subdivision and special fire protection developments on bushfire prone land.

It might sound complicated but here at Montgomery Homes, we are fully equipped with the knowledge to ensure your new home build meets the necessary compliance requirements.

Thanks to our smart home designs and fire resilient building materials, we are capable of building in areas with a low bushfire attack level (BAL) through to riskier areas called “flame zones”.

We are one of the only NSW project home builders who can build in all six BAL zones:

  • BAL-LOW – very low risk
  • BAL-12.5 – low risk
  • BAL-19 – moderate risk
  • BAL-29 – high risk
  • BAL-40 – very high risk
  • BAL-FZ – extreme risk (flame zone)

You can feel safe and rest assured with Montgomery Homes. We have decades of experience building architectural homes in bushfire prone areas. We’ll take care of development approvals for you.

How we'll keep you (and your home) safe during bushfire season

We’re committed to the health and safety of our clients, so we take every precaution to ensure our home designs are at minimal risk of damage during the bushfire season.

During the building process, we will ensure the following safety precautions are put in place:

  • Gas lines are installed underground to minimise the risk of explosion
  • Position the house and windows accordingly to reduce bushfire construction requirements
  • Install metal fly screens on windows and sliding doors
  • Install spark arresting vent holes under the house to stop embers from entering the home from below
  • Install spark arresting weep holes to allow water to escape
  • Use thicker glass on all windows to reduce the risk of smashing and explosions in flame zones
  • Install G-Tech render board under the roofing material and eaves to protect your home in a flame zone
  • Seal the garage doors to stop embers from entering the house between the door and the brickwork.

These techniques and special flame-resistant materials will increase the strength and durability of your home in the event of a bushfire. For more information on our building techniques and precautions, please get in touch with our team today.

Finally, follow the RFS 4-step fire plan

While we can help build a strong, fire resistant home, you will still need to be prepared and alert during the bushfire season. This is essential for keeping you and your family safe.

The RFS has highlighted four simple steps for keeping safe on bushfire prone land. The four steps are as follows:

  1. DISCUSS what to do if a bushfire threatens your home. Create a fire plan and consider if and when to evacuate, what you will do with your pets, what the best escape route will be, and where your family will stay in bushfire conditions.
     
  2. PREPARE your home ahead of time for bushfire season. This might include cleaning out the gutters, sweeping possible tinder like dried leaves, and leaving hoses out for instant use. You might also prepare or review your home insurance to make sure you’re protected.
     
  3. KNOW the bushfire alert levels. These can be seen on bushfire threat signs, online, and via NSW Incident Alerts on Facebook. The RFS will also send out text messages if evacuation is required.
     
  4. KEEP all bushfire and emergency numbers at the ready, download the RFS smartphone app, and keep up to date with NSW Incident Alerts on Facebook. 

Make sure to download the RFS fire survival plan

Building in a bushfire zone doesn't need to be stressful or complicated. We're here to help.

The concept of building in a bushfire prone area can be a concern for new homeowners. However, it doesn’t need to be challenging, complicated, or stressful. At Montgomery Homes, we have decades of experience building in high risk areas and we have developed effective home building methods to keep you safe during bushfire season.

As one of the only project home builders who can build in all BAL areas, you can rest assured knowing your home build is in good hands.

We’d be more than happy to give you some peace of mind about your new home build. If you have any questions whatsoever, make sure to get in touch with our friendly and accommodating team in SydneyNewcastle, or the Central Coast.

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