Comprehending the BAL rating for owner builders in the ACT holds the utmost gravity. In the aftermath of Australia’s devastating 2009 bushfires, understanding and navigating the Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings have become imperative for prospective owner builders. Therefore, these ratings are pivotal in enhancing building safety in bushfire-prone areas. Thus ensuring homes have the necessary measures for heightened protection.

The ACT’s Commitment to Safety:

Given that, the Australian Capital Territory strongly emphasises building safety to align with the Australian Standard AS 3959-2009. Thus, Adopted through Building Regulations in March 2009, this framework categorises sites into BAL levels. Furthermore, each dictates specific construction requirements based on factors such as vegetation types, distance from vegetation, slope of the land, and the Fire Danger Index (FDI).


Six Steps to a Successful BAL Assessment:

  1. Determine your Fire Danger Index (FDI). Assess the probability of a bushfire based on various factors, considering specific FDI values for different areas.
  2. Identify your site’s vegetation types. Classify vegetation based on tables provided in the Standard, considering exclusions for specific types.
  3. Measure the distance from the site to vegetation. Horizontal measurement from the edge of vegetation to the external wall, excluding certain features.
  4. Determine the slope of the land under vegetation. Assess the slope’s impact on bushfire severity by considering effective upslope or downslope to the building.
  5. Assign the BAL. Using tables corresponding to FDI, upslope or downslope, vegetation type, and distance, determine the BAL for your site.
  6. Apply construction requirements. Refer to the Australian Standard AS 3959-2009 to implement construction methods aligned with the determined BAL, ensuring increased protection against bushfire threats.

Understanding BAL Ratings:

  • BAL-Low. Insufficient risk to warrant specific construction requirements.
  • BAL-12.5. Ember attacks with increasing heat flux.
  • BAL-19. Increased ember attack and burning debris, higher heat flux.
  • BAL-29. Further escalation in ember attack and heat flux, potential flame exposure.
  • BAL-40. Direct flame exposure, high heat flux, and ember attack.
  • BAL-FZ. Extreme risk with direct exposure to flames.



As a final point, by diligently following these steps and adhering to construction requirements, the BAL rating for owner builders in the ACT can be navigated by the BAL assessment process successfully. Therefore, it contributes to creating safer and more resilient homes in bushfire-prone areas.

Meanwhile, if more information is needed, individuals can contact an Owner Builder Coach or relevant authorities or refer to the Building Commission’s resources.

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