Bushfire Shelters

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Media release

From the Minister for Planning

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Friday, 28 May, 2010

NEW NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR PRIVATE BUSHFIRE SHELTERS

The new national performance standard for private bushfire shelters is now in effect in Victoria, Planning Minister Justin Madden announced today.

Mr Madden said the Victorian Government had supported the recommendations from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Interim Report 2 Priorities for Building in Bushfire Prone Areas that a national standard for private bushfire shelters be adopted by May 31 2010.

“Private bushfire shelters cannot be guaranteed to save lives and the safest option is still to leave early,” Mr Madden said.

“After the fires of February 7, 2009 our Government took action to establish an interim regulation and accreditation process for private bushfire shelters to provide clarity to Victorians ahead of the national standards.

“Private bushfire shelters should only be considered as an option of last resort. People considering a private bushfire shelter should do so only as part or their overall bushfire management plan rather than the solution.”

Mr Madden said the new national regulations replace interim regulations introduced in Victoria last year and amend the Building Regulations 2006 to classify private bushfire shelters as a class 10c building under the BCA as applied in Victoria.

“The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) has now completed the national standard, which I understand is the first such standard in the world,” Mr Madden said.

“Through the Building Commission, Victoria has been working closely with the ABCB on the development of the national standard to ensure a smooth transition from our current interim regulations for construction of private bushfire shelters.”

Mr Madden said the national standard determined that private bushfire shelters were required to be a separate construction and no longer could be included as part of a building.

“The national standard did consider the merits of bushfire shelters below or within a building but concluded the risks of these sorts of shelters in the event of a bushfire are too great,” he said.

“This means private bushfire shelters must now be a separate building and not part of a dwelling.

“A building permit for a private bushfire shelter will be required as well as from a fire safety engineer that the shelter complies with the requirements as set out in the national performance standard.”

Victorian Building Commissioner and board member of the ABCB Tony Arnel said adoption of the national standard represented an important step for the Victorian community.

“I am certain the building industry stands ready to meet the challenge of delivering private bushfire shelters that will provide greater protection from bushfires in the future,” Mr Arnel said.

The national interim regulations will be in place for 12 months pending a decision by the ABCB to adopt them into the 2011 Building Code of Australia, which would be adopted nationally on May 1, 2011.

A copy of the performance standard is available free of charge on the ABCB’s website at www.abcb.gov.au

For more information on being Fire Ready visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au. Further information on the new interim national regulations is available at http://www.buildingcommission.com.au.

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