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Dictionary / Terminology

Select one of the below words to see the definition or explanation.

Acceptable Solution

The acceptable solutions that meet the requirements of Australian Standard AS3959 – Construction in bushfire-prone areas or Planning for Bush Fire Protection, 2006.  

Alternative Solution

Solutions that vary from the acceptable solutions of Planning for Bush Fire Protection, 2006 and offer more flexibility to an applicant. The solutions provide scope for innovation and allow the designer to consider and account for site-specific conditions and constraints. They are often more economical, functional or aesthetically pleasing than acceptable solutions. It is up to the applicant to demonstrate how the product, design or material can meet the performance requirement of PBP.  


Australian Standard AS3959 Construction of buildings in bush fire prone areas (Standards Australia, 2009) outlines construction standards applicable to residential developments in bush fire prone areas.  


Anything valued by the community which includes houses, crops, heritage buildings and places, infrastructure, the environment, businesses, and forests, that may be at risk from bush fire.  

Asset Protection Zone (APZ)

Often referred to as a fire protection zone, the APZ aims to protect human life, property and highly valued public assets and values. An APZ is an area surrounding a development with fuel managed to reduce the bush fire hazard to an acceptable level. The width of the APZ will vary with slope, vegetation and construction level. The APZ, consisting of an area maintained to minimal fuel loads and, for subdivision, comprising a combination of perimeter road, fire trail, rear yard or a reserve, so that a fire path is not created between the hazard and the building.  

Definition from Standards for APZ is:  

A fuel reduced area surrounding a built asset or structure where potential bush fire fuels are minimised. This is so that the vegetation within the planned zone does not provide a path for the transfer of fire to the asset either from the ground level or through the tree canopy.  

Building Best Practice Guide

A NSW RFS document designed to provide the community with recommendations regarding best practice for developing in bush fire prone areas. All development on bush fire prone land should comply with the relevant recommendations and requirements identified in this document.  

Building Code of Australia (BCA)

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) means the document of that name published on behalf of the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) (as amended), together with:  

  1. Such amendments made by the Board, and
  2. Such variations approved by the Board in relation to New South Wales, as are prescribed by the EP& A Regulations.  

There are 10 classes of buildings as defined by the BCA (see Appendix 1 of Planning for Bush Fire Protection, 2006).  

Building Footprint

The area shown on a plan over which a building can be erected.  

Bush Fire (also Bushfire)

A general term used to describe fire in vegetation, includes grass fire

Bush Fire Assessment Report

A report submitted in support of a development application by an applicant which determines the extent of bush fire attack to a development and the measures used to mitigate that attack. Appendix 4 of Planning for Bush Fire Protection, 2006 provides the information requirements for a bush fire assessment. See also clause 46 of the Rural Fires Regulation 1997.  

Bush Fire Attack

Arises from direct flame impingement, radiant heat or ember attack and can also include the potential impacts of wind and smoke.  

Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code

Means the document approved by the Minister for Emergency Services that identifies the environmental matters that must be assessed by the relevant authority when determining whether a HRC may be issued.  

Bush Fire Hazard

The potential severity of a bush fire, which is determined by fuel load, fuel arrangement and topography under a given climatic condition.   

Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Certificate

Means a certificate that provides an environmental approval to carry out bush fire hazard reduction works. The HRC must be consistent with the bush fire environmental assessment code and the bush fire risk management plan (BFRMP). The HRC details the conditions that are to be adhered to when implementing the bush fire hazard reduction works.  

Bush Fire Hazard Reduction Works

  1. The establishment or maintenance of fire breaks on land, and
  2. The controlled application of appropriate fire regimes or other means for the reduction or modification of available fuels within a predetermined area to mitigate against the spread of bush fires, but does not include construction of tracks, trails or roads.  

Bush Fire Prone Area/Land

An area of land that can support a bush fire or is likely to be subject to bush fire attack. In general, a bush fire prone area is an area mapped for a local government area that identifies the vegetation types and associated buffer zones. Bush fire prone land maps are prepared by local councils and certified by the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service under section 146(2) of the EP&A Act. 

Bush Fire Prone Land Map (BPL Map)

A certified map identifying bush fire prone land for a local government area under section 146(2) of the EP&A Act.  

Bush Fire Protection Measures (BPMs)

Are a range of measures (controls) available to minimise the risk arising from a bush fire. BPMs include APZs, construction standards, suitable access arrangements, water and utility services, emergency management arrangements and landscaping.  

Bush Fire Risk

The chance of a bush fire igniting, spreading and causing damage to the community or the assets they value.   

BAL Risk Assessment Certificate

A site specific assessment procedure that is required as part of the complying development process. It provides a rating based on the expected level of bush fire attack in accordance with AS3959-2009 and Addendum Appendix 3 of Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006.  

Bush Fire Risk Management

A systematic process that provides a range of treatments which contribute to the well being of communities and the environment, which suffer the adverse effects of wildfire/bush fire.  

Bush Fire Safety Authority

An approval of the Commissioner of the NSW RFS required for a subdivision for residential or rural residential purpose or for a Special Fire Protection Purpose listed under section 100B(6) of the Rural Fires Act 1997. This form of development is considered to be integrated development.  

Bush Fire Threat

Potential bush fire exposure of an asset due to the proximity to a hazard, the type of a hazard and the slope on which the hazard is situated.  

Bushfire Attack Level (BAL)

A means of measuring the severity of a building's potential exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact, using increments of radiant heat expressed in kilowatts per metre squared, which is the basis fore establishing the requirements for construction to improve protection of building elements from attack by bush fire.  

Certifying Authority

Is defined in the EP&A Act - those with authority to issue Part 4A and Complying Development Certificates.  

Certifying Authority (for the Bush Fire Environmental Assessment Code)

A public authority (as listed within the Code) that has the authority to issue a HRC for bush fire hazard reduction works on their own land.  

Complying Development

Development that meets predetermined standards contained within local environmental plans, development control plans or state environmental planning policies. 

Consent Authority

Is defined in the EP&A Act, in relation to Development Consents, is usually the local council.  


The outcome or impact of a bush fire event.  

Defendable Space

Is an area within the asset protection zone that provides an environment in which a person can undertake property protection after the passage of a bush fire with some level of safety.  


As defined in the EP&A Act development means:  

  1. the use of land, and
  2. the subdivision of land, and
  3. the erection of a building, and
  4. the carrying out of a work, and
  5. the demolition of a building or work, and
  6. any other act, matter or thing referred to in section 26 that is controlled by an environmental planning instrument,  

Development Application (DA)

Application normally made to the local council for consent to carry out development such as building, subdivision, or the use of a building or land.  

Development Standards

A provision of an environmental planning instrument in relation to the carrying out of development, being provisions by or under which requirements are specified or standards are fixed in respect of any aspect of that development. 

Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD)

As defined in section 6 of the Protection of the Environment Administration Act (NSW) 1991.  

Eco-tourist developments

Aim to foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation and to be ecologically sustainable (being located in a relatively undisturbed natural area).  


Small particles of burning material and in relation to bush fire are often moved around by wind and precede the main fire front. 

Equivalent to an APZ

Is when the building will be separated from the bush fire hazard by other development (including roads, other buildings and managed properties) with a setback distance greater than or equal to the distance which would have been occupied by an APZ, if the development had been established having regard to the provisions of Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2006.  

Fire Intensity

The rate of heat release, per unit length of fire front. The primary unit is kilowatts per metre of fire front (kW/m). It is a function of the heat content of the fuel (H), the weight of the fuel consumed (W), and the rate of spread of the fire (r).  

Fire Protection Systems

In regards to Planning for Bush Fire Protection the term is used to refer to the use of drencher/sprinkler systems used to dispense water on to the walls, roof, windows and other elements of a building.  

Fire Danger Index (FDI)

A relative number denoting an evaluation of rate of spread, or suppression difficulty for specific combinations of fuel, fuel moisture and wind speed. This data is then indexed into comparative FDIs based on the regions within NSW.  

Fire Trail

A fire trail is an access way with a primary purpose of providing access for fire fighting and fire management purposes.  

Flame Zone

The distance from a bush fire at which there is significant potential for sustained flame contact to a building. Determined by the calculated distance at which the radiant heat of the design fire exceeds 29kW/m2 or calculated by the sustained flame length, whichever is the lesser.  

General Housing Code

Under the NSW Housing Code, it outlines how typical new detached dwelling houses, house alterations and additions and ancillary developments can be approved within 10 days by a council or private accredited certifier, if the code is followed. 

Infill Development

Development of land by the erection of or addition to a residential building (or buildings) which does not require the spatial extension of services including public roads, electricity, water or sewerage and is within an existing allotment. An existing allotment in a residential area.  

Integrated development

Integrated development is development (not being complying development) that, in order for it to be carried out, requires development consent and one or more approvals from various government departments referred to under section 91 of the EP&A Act.  

Integrated housing

Development means a subdivision into two or more lots and the simultaneous design and construction of dwellings.  


The chance of a bush fire igniting and spreading.  

Local Environmental Plan (LEP)

Local Environmental Plan prepared under Part 3 of the EP&A Act. Plans prepared by a council that describe the planning status (zone) and/or development standards required for the future development of an area.  

Public Road

Is an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles. Public roads are required where the road provides access to four or more dwellings.      

Qualified Consultant

Consultants who have been recognised by the NSW Rural Fire Service and NSW Department of Planning as suitably qualified. This recognition is for the purposes of 79BA of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1997 and the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008

Reviews of Environmental Factors (REFs)

Means the framework (under Part 5 of the EP&A Act) utilised by public authorities to consider whether a proposal (including hazard reduction) is likely to significantly affect the environment. If the proposal is likely to significantly affect the environment then an Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS") is required. If the proposal is not likely to significantly affect the environment then the determining authority may proceed with the proposal.    

Risk Acceptance

An informed decision to accept the consequences and the likelihood of a particular risk.  

Risk Analysis

A systematic process to understand the nature of and to deduce the level of risk.  

Risk Assessment

The overall process of risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation.  

Risk Identification

The process of determining what, where, when, why, and how something could happen.  

Risk Treatment

The process of selection and implementation of measures to modify risk.  

Rural Housing Code

Under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Codes) Additional Codes 2010 (the Codes SEPP). This allows the development of new single and two storey dwelling houses, alterations and additions to existing dwelling houses, and ancillary development on rural lots as complying development. 


The distance required through planning provisions to separate a building from the bush fire hazard, street frontage, property boundary or from adjacent buildings.  

Special Fire Protection Purposes

Special Fire Protection Purpose are defined by s100b of the Rural Fires Act 1997. Are generally developments designed for occupants that are more vulnerable to bush fire attack due to reduced mobility capacity, less educated regarding bush fire impacts, organisational difficulties for relocation, have communication barriers and logistical arrangements.  

State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP)

Is an environmental planning instrument prepared under Part 3 of the EP&A Act.


Subdivision of land means the division of land into two or more parts that, after the division, would be obviously adapted for separate occupation, use or disposition. The division may (but need not) be affected:  

  • By conveyance, transfer or partition, or
  • By any agreement dealing, plan or instrument rendering different parts of the land available for separate occupation, use or disposition.  

It includes strata subdivision, community title and boundary adjustments.  

Vegetation Formations (and sub-formations)

Are different vegetation types and classes defined by Keith D. 2004 in: "Ocean Shores to Desert Dunes" published by DEC.  


The susceptibility of an asset to the impacts of bush fire.