Your tool kit
Bush Fire Prone Land Tool
The Bush Fire Prone Land Tool is designed to assist in determining if your property is on bush fire prone land. There are specific rules and regulations which must be followed if you are developing on bush fire prone land.
Bush Fire Home Assessment Tool
The Bush Fire Home Assessment Tool is designed to help you to make an informed decisions when making your bush fire survival plan, such as whether to leave early or to stay and defend your property.
Frequently asked questions
Bush fire prone land
What is bush fire prone land (BFPL)?
Bush fire prone land is land that can support a bush fire or is likely to be subject to bush fire attack. Bush fire prone land is land mapped for a local government area that identifies the vegetation classifications and associated buffer zones. Bush fire prone land maps are prepared by local councils and certified by the Commissioner of the NSW RFS.
How do I find out whether or not my land is in a bush fire prone area?
Bush fire prone land maps for local government areas are usually available for inspection at Council offices. You can also check if you live on bush fire prone land by using the NSW RFS online tool.
Additionally, Section 10.7 Certificates (a certificate that identifies relevant town planning factors that apply to a parcel of land) issued by local councils should identify whether or not the land for which the Certificate is issued is on bush fire prone land.
Where can I obtain a bush fire prone land map for our council area?
Copies can be requested from the customer services counter at your local council. Some councils may have the map available on their website or in an electronic format.
What do the colours mean on the map?
There are four colours on the BFPL map. Three of the colours represent different types of vegetation and one colour represents the buffer from the vegetation. For example, forests with a lot of eucalypt trees are considered to be a high hazard for bush fires and so are usually coloured red, which is Category 1. Land that is covered with grass is considered to be a medium hazard and is coloured orange which is Category 3. Rainforests and smaller areas of vegetation that are considered to be a low hazard are coloured a light orange which is Category 2. The buffer (which is coloured yellow) can be either 100 metres from the vegetation for Category 1 vegetation or 30 metres for Category 2 or 3 vegetation. The most important thing to understand is that if either the mapped vegetation or the buffer intersects your property, the property is considered to be bush fire prone.
Whose responsibility is it to review or update the bush fire prone area map for your Council area?
It is the council's responsibility to review their bush fire prone land map at regular intervals. Councils must review their map under the legislation once every five years but can make amendments to the map at any time. Any amendments or updates are to be submitted to NSW Rural Fire Service for certification
Can I build on bush fire prone land?
If you are proposing to build a residential dwelling or do renovations to an existing dwelling that requires council consent and the property has been mapped as bush fire prone, you must meet the requirements of Planning for Bush Fire Protection. Planning for Bush fire Protection requires certain protective measures be met in order to increase life safety and make a building less susceptible to damage or destruction from bush fires.
If the siting and nature of the building being proposed does not comply with Planning for Bush Fire Protection, the consent authority (councils) needs to refer the application to the NSW Rural Fire Service for advice.
It is not the intention of the measures to prevent the development of land in bush fire prone areas. However, in order to provide adequate protection from bush fires, it may be necessary to modify the style, construction material or sighting of a building.
Are there construction requirements for building on bush fire prone land? Can I do Complying Development if my land is bush fire prone?
If there is development proposed for a property on Bush Fire Prone Land, then that development must meet the requirements of Planning for Bush Fire Protection (PBP). PBP requires certain building construction levels to be met so that life safety is improved and the building will be less likely to burn down or be damaged by bush fires.
What is complying development on bush fire prone land?
Complying development is a fast track approval process for straight forward residential, commercial and industrial development. Providing the application meets specific criteria then it can be determined by council or an accredited certifier without the need for a full Development Application.
Complying development on low risk bush fire prone land has development requirements and standards that are in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008. Complying development which is low risk i.e. BAL Low, 12.5.19 or 29 can have an application submitted to council or an accredited certifier for assessment. To be considered as complying development you need to obtain a BAL Risk Assessment Certificate which confirms that a complying development proposal is not on BAL-40 or BAL-FZ.
What is the process for assessing a complying development application on bush fire prone land?
The process for assessing and determining a complying development certificate on bush fire prone land is outlined in clause 3.4 of State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.
What should be taken into consideration when plans are being prepared for complying development on bush fire prone land?
The home owner and/or the building designer should obtain all relevant information relating to the property before designing new works.
A Section 10.7 certificate can be obtained from your local council which will provide any relevant or necessary information outlining whether the property is bush fire prone.
If the property is on land that is bush fire prone, the relevant State Environmental Planning Policy requires that a bush fire bush fire attack level (BAL) certificate be obtained from a recognised bush fire consultant or your council to certify that the BAL for the land on which the development is proposed is not BAL-40 or BAL-FZ. The BAL certificate may also specify the relevant BAL for the land in question.
Once the BAL is identified, the building designer can ensure work is designed to comply with AS 3959 - Construction of Buildings in Bush Fire Prone Areas and all other relevant development standards contained in the Codes SEPP.
What is a Bush Fire Attack Level (BAL)?
A Bush Fire Attack Level (BAL) is used to describe the level of potential bush fire attack on a property. Bush fire attack is considered to be potential flame contact, ember attack or radiant heat exposure that may affect a building and damage or destroy it during a bush fire. Building to the correct BAL measure can help a building to potentially survive a bush fire and provide better protection for human life.
What is a Bush Fire Attack Level (BAL) used for?
BAL is used to describe the appropriate level of bush fire attack and the construction required. As part of any application for new works on bush fire prone land bush fire the BAL will need to be addressed. A BAL assessment will need to be undertaken for your property to demonstrate compliance with Planning for Bush Fire Protection and satisfy council.
Why is it important to have the BAL determined by the council or a recognised bush fire consultant?
The BAL is a measure used to determine the category of potential bush fire attack on a building. The methodology for determining the BAL is outlined in Planning for Bushfire Protection which is accessible on the NSW RFS website.
Determining the BAL ensures that development is undertaken in such a way that risk to people and property is minimised. It is a requirement that a person who is recognised as having the appropriate qualifications and experience undertakes the assessment. This could be either your council or a person identified as being a recognised bush fire consultant.
Will the NSW RFS do site inspections to help me determine my BAL?
The NSW RFS is not required to do site inspections to assist in determining your BAL. If the application is for a dwelling, anyone can determine the BAL by using the Guidelines for Single Dwelling Development Application Kit. You can also speak to a recognised bush fire consultant (The Fire Protection Association of Australia maintains a list of accredited consultants at www.fpaa.com.au) who can assist with your BAL assessments and reports.
Does the NSW RFS know the BAL for my property?
The NSW RFS does not hold any data for the BAL of your dwelling. The BAL needs to be calculated based on the individual site circumstances at the time at which development consent is being sought.
The Bush Fire Prone Land Map tool available on the NSW RFS website can help you determine if your property is on a Bush Fire Prone Land.
Once you have determined if your property is on Bush Fire Prone land, you can then use the Guidelines for Single Dwelling Development Applications Kit to determine your BAL.
Alternatively, a recognised Bush Fire Consultant can also assist with determining your BAL. See the Fire Protection Association of Australia website for further information at www.fpaa.com.au
What are the construction requirements for each BAL?
Australian Standard 3959 - Construction of buildings in bush fire-prone areas contains the construction requirements for each BAL. A copy of AS3959 can be obtained from Standards Australia. Refer to their website at www.standards.org.au/.
How do I get at BAL Risk Assessment Certificate?
BAL certificates can be issued and obtained from your local council or recognised bush fire consultants. Please refer to the FPAA website www.fpaa.com.au.
What is the difference between a Bush Fire Risk Assessment Certificate and a BAL Risk Assessment Certificate?
A Bush Fire Risk Assessment Certificate is issued by a recognised bush fire consultant and is used to certify that a proposed development conforms to the specifications and requirements of the NSW RFS document Planning for Bush Fire Protection. The Bush Fire Risk Assessment Certificate is used to support the development application process.
A BAL Risk Assessment Certificate will certify that your proposed development is below BAL-40 or BAL-FZ in accordance with the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the Codes SEPP).
Can the NSW RFS assess bush fire risk for complying development?
The NSW RFS does not assess bush fire risk or issue BAL certificates for complying development. Councils and private accredited certifiers perform this work and issue the certificates accordingly.
Once a complying development certificate is approved on bush fire prone land, are there any further requirements?
Once a complying development certificate has been issued by either the local council or an accredited certifier, all relevant information is required to be referred to the NSW RFS for their records.
Provision information – reports
Is it mandatory for me to include an assessment of the bush fire risk in my development application?
While it may be a requirement of individual councils it is not a requirement for every application. Your local Council and the NSW RFS can provide you with information and guidelines relating to what measures need to be taken to enable your development to proceed.
Planning for Bush Fire Protection outlines the submission requirements for development applications on bush fire prone land. In addition, the NSW RFS has provided Single Dwelling Application Kits to assist people in preparing an assessment and report for single dwellings.
If my council requires my development application to include a bush fire report, how will I go about providing it?
On the NSW RFS website you will find various guidelines, publications and applicant kits. These kits will take you through the step by step instructions for completing a bush fire assessment and report and can be accessed via the website.
Alternatively, you can engage the services of recognised bush fire consultants who can prepare a professional report for the development application. Contact details for recognised bush fire consultants can be found on the Fire Protection Association of Australia website (www.fpaa.com.au).
If an applicant needs help with their application in order to comply with Planning for Bush Fire Protection, what does the NSW RFS suggest?
On the NSW RFS website you will find various applicant kits. These will take you through instructions for completing a bush fire assessment and report. Alternatively, there are a number of bush fire consultants who can provide an independent report to the developer or applicant regarding the impact Planning for Bush Fire Protection may have on their proposed development.
It is not mandatory for applicants to provide an independent report prepared by a consultant. Planning for Bush Fire Protection along with the applicant kits should give applicants all the information needed.
Will these requirements delay the processing of development applications?
The NSW RFS has timeframes they have committed to for assessing development applications.
Asset Protection Zones (APZs)
If part of an asset protection zone (APZ) falls on the adjoining land, whose responsibility is it to maintain the vegetation?
The maintenance of the APZ is always the responsibility of the owner of the land being developed. An APZ should be contained wholly within that block of land and cannot be imposed on a third party by either the NSW RFS or the consent authority.
Exceptions may occur in exceptional circumstances and in such cases an easement must be entered into between the two land owners.
An adjoining land owner can negotiate and/or agree to a legal easement over their land for the purpose of an APZ if they wish to do so.
Where can I get information on managing the asset protection zone and vegetation?
Conditions of consent and the Rural Fires Act 1997 require vegetation to be managed to ensure it does not become a hazard. For more information on reducing the fire hazard around your property you can access the NSW RFS publication Standards for Asset Protection Zones from the website.
Special Fire Protection Purpose Developments (SFPP)
What is a SFPP development?
In NSW SFPPs have been identified as:
- a school;
- a child care centre;
- a hospital (including a hospital for the mentally ill or mentally disordered);
- a hotel, motel or other tourist accommodation;
- a building wholly or principally used as a home or other establishment for mentally incapacitated persons;
- housing for older people or people with disabilities within the meaning of State Environmental Planning Policy (Seniors Living);
- a group home within the meaning of State Environmental Planning Policy (Group Homes);
- a retirement village;
- any other purpose prescribed by the regulations (Section 100B (6) of the Rural Fires Act 1997).
What fees are payable and to who?
Any fees for development applications are determined by legislation. You should speak to your local council about any fees that may apply.
An integrated development application (under section 4.46 of the EP&A Act) has a fee of $320 that applies. The NSW RFS only accepts payment directly from councils and therefore cannot provide receipts direct to the applicant.
Is the NSW RFS the consent authority for residential development?
Residential development such as the construction of a single dwelling will only need to be referred to the NSW RFS if the requirements of Planning of Bush Fire Protection are not met. The NSW RFS provides advice to the consent authority on the measures to be taken for compliance with Planning for Bush Fire Protection.
Where integrated developments such as residential subdivisions and SFPP developments are proposed, the NSW RFS is required to provide a Bush Fire Safety Authority to the consent authority which documents their approval which is required for the development to proceed.
Where can I get more information?
You can download a copy of Planning for Bush Fire Protection from the NSW RFS website.
Are commercial or industrial developments on bush fire prone land required to comply with Planning for Bush Fire Protection?
Commercial and industrial developments (buildings of Class 5-8 and 10B of the BCA) on bush fire prone land will need to comply Planning for Bush Fire Protection.
What is a Defendable Space?
Defendable space is an area within an APZ that provides an environment in which a person can undertake property protection after the passage of a bush fire.
What buildings are and are not covered by the bush fire legislation?
All habitable buildings must comply with Planning for Bush Fire Protection. However, any detached structures (sheds, decks etc.) within 6m of a building on bush fire prone land are also required to meet Planning for Bush Fire Protection.
Couldn't find what you're looking for?
Check out the resources and information below.
You can talk to your local council about:
- Whether you can proceed under complying development – the fast track alternative to the DA process
- What will need to be submitted in a development application
Any questions about Planning for Bush Fire Protection can be sent to PBP@rfs.nsw.gov.au or speak to an officer on 1300 NSW RFS (1300 679 737).
Any questions relating to a development application (DA) can be sent to email@example.com.
A recognised bush fire consultant can help you with the application process.
If you are intending to apply for complying development you will need to submit a BAL Risk Assessment Certificate with your application. This certificate must be prepared by a recognised bush fire consultant or your council.
A list of qualified consultants can be found on the Fire Protection Association of Australia's website.
Additional information on building in a bush fire area can be found in the publications section.