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What is a bushfire prone area?

Bushfire prone areas (BPA) are where the bushfire hazard has been identified and mapped under the building system. These areas are subject to or likely to be subject to bushfires. This triggers building permit requirements where new buildings are required to build to a national bushfire construction standard. This is known as a bushfire attack level (BAL).

Find out if your property is in a designated bushfire prone area using VicPlan.

Bushfire prone areas are subject to or likely to be subject to bushfires.

The BMO is a planning control that applies to bushfire prone areas with very high and extreme bushfire hazards.This triggers planning permit requirements including mandatory bushfire protection measures such:

  • as defendable space
  • water supply
  • access
  • ongoing vegetation management requirements.

Areas where a BMO applies are also by default Bushfire Prone Areas.

Image of map showing BPA with layer of BMO floating above

What about the construction standards?

If you're building in a BMO, construction standards also apply as part of the building permit application process.

Bushfire attack level (BAL)

What is BAL?

A bushfire attack level (BAL) is a way of measuring the severity of a building's potential exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact.

Getting a BAL assessment

A suitably qualified person can provide a BAL assessment for a property. Fire Protection Association Australia provides training and accreditation and may be able to provide a list of qualified persons.

Building construction controls - bushfire attack level (BAL)

A building permit is required for most new buildings and can be obtained by making a building permit application, usually through a private building surveyor and sometimes via the local council.

In designated bushfire prone areas, a minimum construction standard applies to:

  • new residential buildings
  • schools
  • child care centres
  • hospitals
  • aged care facilities
  • buildings for other sensitive land uses.
The image outlines the types of bushfire attacks.Ember attack:burning twigs, leaves and bark caused by wind, landing in and around a building. Radiant heat: the heat you feel from a fire. Flame contact from fire front: flame contact from a fire front where vegetation is in mostly natural state.

There are six bushfire attack levels that form part of the Australian Standard for construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas (AS 3959):

  • BAL-12.5
  • BAL-19
  • BAL-29
  • BAL-40
  • BAL-FZ (Flame Zone).

For more information about bushfire protection measures and bushfire attack levels, refer to:

For more information about the building application process, contact your local council or speak to a private building surveyor. They can also assist you in meeting relevant bushfire requirements under the building system.

Where a planning permit is also required, the building permit application will be assessed after the planning application process has been completed. If bushfire protection requirements have already been considered as part of the planning application, they don't need to be considered again in the building application.

When buying or selling property, section 32C of the Sale of Land Act 1962 requires a vendor statement to state if the land is in a designated bushfire prone area. For more information, consult Consumer Affairs Victoria.

When buying or selling property, section 32C of the Sale of Land Act 1962 requires a vendor statement to state if the land is in a designated bushfire prone area.

For more information, consult Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Common questions for building in the BPA

In the BPA, a minimum construction standard applies for improved bushfire protection. Your building may cost more due to additional materials and labour required to adequately address bushfire safety. This will vary depending on the builder, the size and build of your home, and the BAL level.

If no part of the building envelope or footprint falls within the BPA area, the BPA construction requirements do not apply.

If part of the building footprint falls within the BPA, construction of the whole building must meet the BPA requirements to build to the minimum standard for improved bushfire protection. You can check the measurements of where the BPA applies at VicPlan – see notes below under Using VicPlan.

This will depend on the location of the shed and its proximity to the dwelling. If the shed is not attached to the dwelling or is located more than six metres away, you do not need to build it to the minimum standard for improved bushfire protection. (AS3959:2018, Clause 3.2.3).

Your local council or the Victorian Building Authority can help clarify these requirements.

An individual lot owner can apply to the Building Appeals Board to determine that the additional construction requirements for buildings located within a BPA do not apply to that allotment.

Use the Section 160 Modification Application form (you can find this under modification and compliance applications). The fee is $124.60 (for a dwelling) and can take up to 12 weeks to process. Most BPA applications for review will be for a residential building - Modifications Class 1 or 10 residential buildings.

Further information about the Building Appeals Board and processes, including a guide and examples of a completed form.

The Building Appeals Board can be contacted by phone 1300 421 082 or email:registry@buildingappeals.vic.gov.au

More information

Page last updated: 13/03/24