Currently Australian Standard AS3959-2009 provides a number of design features that aim to limit bushfire attack.
Looking back at the era of its conception, it now appears to have been heavily motivated by the emotion and associated politics of the day – i.e. politicians – particularly in Victoria – seeking some form of definitive statement. This document – for all of its good intentions appears to miss the mark in 2019. The shock and guilt felt by politicians ten years ago appears to have moved on. The fires are more severe, the loss just as great – if not greater – so what does that mean for this Australian Standard and bushfire design in general?
Given emerging trends where bushfire ferocity is on the increase, the question being posed is what the purpose is to establish particular and costly built solutions that achieve little or nothing.
What about building what you want – so long as the proviso is that you do NOT ever defend the building….. i.e. a bark hut is fine and so is the super protected solidly built fortress ….so long as you get out if fire becomes a threat. By mandating this approach, the effort of staying and defending a “bushfire” designed building never enters the conversation….you simply MUST leave.
No insurance coverage for bushfire damage…of-course.
Are we ready for this simple approach?
From a design perspective it is sensible to add preventative features to mitigate bushfire attack – i.e. shutters to windows, zero penetrations in roofs, wire/mesh to subfloor ventilators, sacrificial (non connected) elements such as decks and pergolas. Let’s consider side stepping the insurance based mentality of protecting the building in favour of a stricter requirement for human behaviour – GET OUT WHEN YOUR TOLD – and pay for your losses!
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