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Victorian Bushfires

Victorian Bushfires

On 9 February 2009, bushfires swept across Victoria, devastating 78 communities and 400,000 hectares of land. A total of 173 people lost their lives. The devastation resulted in 2029 homes destroyed, along with hundreds of businesses, five schools and kindergartens, three sporting clubs, and numerous other buildings. Design Matters Members quickly rallied together when the enormity of the bushfires became known. To gain an understanding of how Design Matters assisted bushfire-affected persons, CLICK HERE.

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission was established on 16 February 2009 to investigate the causes and responses to the bushfires which swept through parts of Victoria in late January and February 2009. The Commission delivered its Final Report on 31 July 2010. For more information, or to read the final report, or a summary of the recommendations, CLICK HERE.

Bushfire Prone Areas

Victoria is one of the most fire-prone areas in the world with a long history of bushfires. The Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure's website contains information and resources to assist planning and building for bushfire protection in Victoria. For further information, CLICK HERE.

Specific bushfire construction standards apply in designated bushfire prone areas in Victoria.  These bushfire construction requirements are aimed at improving bushfire protection for residential buildings. The creation of the Bushfire Prone Area map fulfils one of the 67 recommendations made by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. The Bushfire Prone Area Map for Victoria was reviewed and updated on 30 December 2013. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Bushfire Standard

The Australian Building Codes Board adopted the national bushfire standard for residential buildings in 2009. The new Standard, AS3959-2009, Construction in bushfire-prone areas, referenced in the BCA, takes a risk management approach and aligns construction requirements more closely to the assessed level of bushfire exposure for new building work. It includes improved ways to assess fire fuel loads, and revised ways to make the outside of houses resistant to ember, heat and flame attack. For more information about the Standard, CLICK HERE. The Standard is available for purchase from SAI Global.

Installation of Bushfire Bunkers

In the wake of the Black Saturday bushfires, some Victorians were considering buying and installing bushfire bunkers. Fire 'bunkers', 'refuges' or 'shelters' are NOT covered by any Australian Standard nor recognised by the Building Code of Australia. There are currently no technical standards for the manufacture of bunkers. There is an Australian Standard for construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas that is adopted in the Building Code of Australia; however this only applies to new residential buildings built throughout Victoria. If you are considering purchasing or installing a bunker, you should seek professional advice from a suitably qualified fire engineer.

Guide to Windows & Doors

The Australian Window Association has published a guide to windows and doors in bushfire prone areas. To download the guide, CLICK HERE.

Further Information

For more up-to-date information about the bushfires and related matters, visit the Victorian Building Authority's website.