BAL assessment is an Australian standard associate with building structures in areas susceptible to bushfires. It is primarily concerned with determining the bushfire attack level to enhance the ability of a building to withstand a bushfire attack. It is a part of the construction permit process. Australian Standard 3959 states that BAL assessment is necessary for constructions surrounded by vegetation at a distance of 100m.
An assessor trained in BAL standards will examine the area immediately surrounding the structure. On the basis of the documentation described above, a report is to be compiled and delivered to the municipal council in order to make applications for building or planning. The BAL assessment report comprises a map of the concerned structure and surrounding area, photos of the vegetation surrounding the property, and the analysis of the BAL rating. Based on the amount of heat exposure, the areas are rated as BAL-12.5, BAL-19, BAL-29, and so on. Higher ratings result in greater expenditure in installing features that will ensure the protection of your building from bushfires.
Factors that Determine BAL Ratings
The factors affecting your BAL ratings are as follows:
- The foremost factor is the location of your building. The location is assesses to determine the spots that can be an entry point for a bushfire into your property.
- The next factor is the type of vegetation in the vicinity. In the BAL assessment, vegetation is classified as woodlands, forests, open scrub, scrub, grasslands, managed lands, and rainforests. The likelihood of bushfires is directly correlate to the amount of vegetation present.
- The distance of vegetation from your property is the third consideration to take into account. Increasing the distance between you and the source will reduce your vulnerability. A surveyor will measure the distance from the closest external part of your building to the nearest vegetation.
How to Conduct BAL Assessment?
Plenty of methods are available to perform the BAL ratings for your property. You can determine the ratings for your location by following the methods that are listed below:
- The local council has the maps of bushfire-prone areas uploaded on its website. You can consult them to know the exact ratings of your site.
- You can take help from the NSW Rural Fire Service. This organization can help you using its online BAL assessment tools.
- Also, you can get your land assess by a certified Bush fire Consultant. Launch the official website of the Fire Protection Association of Australia; there, you can get all of the information that you require concerning the expert who will be working in your area. The consultant will prepare a report for you to submit to the council while doing construction works in a BAL Flame Zone or BAL 40.
How to Build a BAL-Resistant Structure?
A few implementations can raise the BAL protection level. These implementations are as follows:
- The initial embers from a wildfire are transported by air and attack the roofs of your house. As a result, the following components must to be present on your roof:
- They should made of fiber cement or metal. Tiled roofs can allow the embers to enter your house through gaps.
- An inclined roof will prevent the embers from causing damage by getting trapped.
- Gutter guards allow the flow of water that prevents the accumulation of leaves. Installing the gutter guards made of perforated metal and mesh is an additional advantage.
- Installing steel framings will help you create a barrier to make your building withstand bushfires.
- When you are making your building resistance to wildfires, paying specific attention to the windows as openings is required. Installing stainless steel wire mesh over windows will help cover all the gaps. Non-combustible window glasses, fire retardant coatings, and roll-down metal shutters will prevent embers from entering your house.
- Apart from that, protecting the external components of your building is equally important. The gaps of decking boards should not left exposed. A vegetation-free area between your building and the surrounding bushes can act as a barrier against a bushfire.
BAL assessment seems to be a cumbersome process as it takes considerable time from initial application to receiving the BAL report. Due to this, self-assessment might seem a go-to option. Technically, any individual is capable of performing a BAL rating, but engaging an accredited surveyor will help you assess your site appropriately.