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Access - NSW Rural Fire Service

Appropriate access for fire fighting services is a necessary aspect of developing in a bush fire prone area. The NSW Rural Fire Service has specific access standards for different development types that must be satisfied. These requirements are outlined in Chapter 4 - Performance Based Controls of Planning for Bush fire Protection 2006.  

For new subdivisions and Special Fire Protection Purpose developments, the design of public and property access roads should enable safe access, egress and a defendable space for emergency services. Efficient access to and from habitable buildings and water supplies will facilitate safer fire fighting and relocation activities during bush fire events. These principles also apply for infill and other developments but greater emphasis on landscaping, construction and other bush fire protection measures may be necessary.  

Access roads can be classified into three different categories which are outlined below.  

Public Roads: These include the perimeter road and the internal road system of any urban subdivision, as well as public roads in rural-residential subdivisions. The public road system in a bush fire prone area should provide alternative access or egress for fire-fighters and residents during a bush fire emergency if part of the road system is cut by fire. As a general rule, subdivision applications proposing the creation of 3 or more lots will require access roads that comply with the provisions of a public road outlined in Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006.  

Property Access Roads: Property access is any form of access from a public road system to a habitable building that can be utilised by fire fighters. A distinction is drawn between rural private access roads and those in urban areas.  

Where property access is required across the adjoining land, the owner's consent to legally binding arrangements covering access and ongoing maintenance are required prior to lodging a development application. Short property access roads are preferable to long ones for the safety of evacuating residents and emergency service personnel, and therefore it is preferable to site dwellings as close as possible to public through roads.  

Fire Trails: Fire trails are used as access for fire fighters, as fire control lines and for APZ maintenance. In rural-residential subdivisions, they may surround isolated dwellings or groups of dwellings and can form part of the Inner Protection Area (IPA) around individual or groups of dwellings.  

In suburban subdivisions, fire trails may function as a strategic control line around the hazard side of the IPA if they are connected to the public road system at frequent intervals. A fire trail is not a substitute for a perimeter road and any proposals will need to demonstrate clear benefits over the use of a perimeter road.