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Planning for Bush Fire Protection

After the 2001 Christmas fires in Sydney, which destroyed 109 homes and burnt more than 750,000 hectares, a Joint Parliamentary Inquiry was established. The resulting report endorsed the release of a document which contained specifications for building on land identified as bush fire prone. This document is titled Planning for Bush Fire Protection (PBP) and the current legislated version that is adopted is PBP 2006.

Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006

PBP 2006 is intended for use by councils, town planners, NSW fire authorities, developers, planning and bush fire consultants, surveyors, building practitioners, and the public.

PBP 2006 allows for considerable flexibility and innovation that links the bush fire hazard for a site with the implementation of appropriate bush fire protection measures. These bush fire protection measures must be addressed for any developments located on bush fire prone land. Please refer to the following link if you wish to determine if you live on bush fire prone land, determining if you live on Bush Fire Prone Land.

Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2019

PBP 2019 is the product of consultation between NSW RFS, representatives from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) and relevant stakeholders regarding comments and discussions arising from the pre-release version of PBP 2018. It is expected that PBP 2019 will be legislatively adopted on 1 March 2020. The NSW RFS has committed that a minimum two month period will be provided between the time notification of the adoption date is given and the adoption date of PBP 2019. Further notification will be provided after the legislative adoption of PBP 2019.

PBP 2019 is the culmination of significant investment in scientific research and policy development to provide appropriate bush fire protection whilst still having due consideration for development potential and the economic sustainability.

PBP 2019 can be downloaded from the following link and users are recommended to read the following frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is PBP?

PBP provides guidelines and requirements for developing in bush fire prone areas in NSW. Planning law requires all new development on bush fire prone land to comply with PBP. The aim of PBP is to provide for the protection of human life and to minimise the impacts on property from the threat of bush fire.

What does PBP cover?

PBP covers everything from development applications to building and development requirements. It provides standards for new residential and rural residential subdivisions, as well as bush fire protection measures for new buildings and developments. It provides specific provisions for the most at-risk developments, like schools and aged care facilities. PBP is applicable to all development applications and complying development on bush fire prone land in NSW.

Why has PBP been reviewed?

As the Australian landscape changes so too does our understanding of what it can do. Since PBP 2006 was written, there have been improvements in the understanding of bush fires and changes to building construction standards. In addition, following the findings from the Victorian 2009 Bush Fires Royal Commission, changes in bush fire protection requirements have been considered and made. Additionally, fact sheets, policy notes, and interpretations been incorporated into PBP 2019.

What are the major changes to PBP?

A major change to PBP is a redesign of the document for ease of use and clarity. A Fact Sheet detailing all of the technical changes involved in PBP 2018 titled PBP 2006 to PBP 2019 – What has changed? is available on the NSW RFS website.

Why are there two versions of PBP and which version can be used?

PBP 2019 has been through an extensive consultation period and has received Ministerial approval for publication. It is anticipated that PBP 2019 will be adopted in legislation on 1 March 2020.

There will therefore be a period between the publication of PBP 2019 and its adoption during which either PBP 2006 or PBP 2019 can be used to demonstrate compliance.

Will industry and the public be notified in advance before PBP 2019 becomes effective?

The NSW RFS has committed to providing at least two months advance notice to industry and the public before PBP 2019 is adopted into legislation and switched on.

I have a DA from Council that was approved requiring compliance with PBP 2006 and AS3959-2009.  Which version of PBP do I use for construction?

Council is the Consent Authority for this issue and should therefore be consulted on this issue. Similarly, certification of construction in accordance with the National Construction Code shall be undertaken against the version of the PBP that was in effect at the time of approval consistent with the Consent Authority’s advice.

What will happen with Complying Development Certificates?

Complying Development Certificates (CDC) must comply with PBP 2006, therefore CDCs cannot be issued in accordance with PBP 2019 until such time as PBP 2019 becomes adopted into legislation.

Will Council need to refer an application under PBP 2019 to the NSW RFS under s4.14 for consultation?

Development applications using PBP 2019 will need to be referred to the NSW RFS under s.4.14 of the EP&A Act.

Why have the fuel loads changed?

The NSW RFS has undertaken vegetation and fuel load research to improve the overall knowledge of fuel loads that can be considered appropriate for NSW. Outcomes from this work have been used in determining vegetation fuel loads to consider in deriving the asset protection zones used for subdivisions and BAL tables in PBP 2019.

Why does PBP 2019 have BAL tables and deeming provisions for grasslands?

AS3959 - 2009 adopted provisions for grasslands. This change was intended to bring PBP2019 into line with AS3959. The deeming provisions for grasslands in PBP 2019 provide an alternative to the BAL tables in AS3959.

Where can I get more information about building in bush fire prone areas?

To find out if you live in a bush fire prone area you can use our online search tool at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/check-bfpl. For more details on developing in bush fire prone areas, visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/building.

Where can I find out about FFDIs?

Fire Weather Districts and FFDIs for NSW Local Government Areas are used in reference to Planning for Bush Fire Protection and can be found here.

Where can I get help?

If you have any questions about Planning for Bush Fire Protection please contact PBP@rfs.nsw.gov.au.

If you need assistance with your proposed development you can contact a qualified consultant.


Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2018

The Pre-Release version of PBP-2018 is available so that it can be used for reference since it has been available for use to demonstrate compliance with PBP 2006.