Bush fire prone land is defined as an area of land that can support a bush fire or is likely to be subject to bush fire attack, as designated on a bush fire prone land map (BFPLM).
What is a bush fire prone land map?
A Bush Fire Prone Land Map (BFPLM) is a map prepared in accordance with the Guide for Bush Fire Prone Land Mapping, V5b, November 2015, NSW Rural Fire Service and certified by the Commissioner of the NSW RFS under Section 10.3(2) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Legislation requires that BFPLM’s be reviewed every 5 years.
The purpose of a BFPLM is to identify land that is at risk from bush fire attack. It also triggers additional planning and development controls on bush fire prone land for new development or building work.
New development or building work on this land must comply with the requirements of the NSW Rural Fire Service’s Planning for Bushfire Protection (2019). This document outlines bush fire protection measures that may be required for new development, such as ‘asset protection zones’ and ‘emergency access’.
A BFPLM is also used to give effect to the Building Code of Australia’s Australian Standard AS 3959-2009 ‘Construction of Buildings in Bush Fire Prone Areas’.
Is my property on bush fire prone land?
Bush fire prone land is an area of land that can support a bush fire or is subject to bush fire attack, as designated on a BFPLM.
The Northern Beaches BFPLM was certified by the Commissioner of the NSW RFS on 7 August 2020 and covers the Northern Beaches local government area (LGA).
To check whether a property is covered by bush fire prone land within the LGA:
- Download the updated Northern Beaches Bush Fire Prone Land Map
- Use our online mapping tool to zoom in to view individual properties
- or order a Section 10.7 Planning Certificate
All areas on the BFPLM coloured yellow, orange or red are bush fire prone areas, and any properties fully or partially within these areas are subject to development restrictions and building standards. The different colours identify an area as Category 1, 2 or 3 Fire Prone Vegetation or within a specified distance (Buffer) of that vegetation. The different vegetation categories are important only in determining the extent of the surrounding buffer area and do not have differing impacts on development.
Note: The BFPLM does not identify a property’s Bush fire Attack Level (BAL) rating.
In response to devastating losses of life and property in past bush fire events, the NSW Government enacted legislative changes on 1 August 2002 to ensure bush fire matters were considered in the development process. These legislative changes resulted in the creation of section 4.14 (formerly 79BA) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and section 100B of the Rural Fires Act 1997 which require all new development on bush fire prone land to comply with Planning for Bush fire Protection 2019. This document forms the basis for all bush fire planning and bush fire protection measures for new development in NSW.
Building and development
If you are proposing to develop land that has been identified as bush fire prone, your development must meet the requirements of Australian Standard: 3959-2018 Construction of buildings in bush fire-prone areas (AS3959-2018)
What information do I need to submit?
The Exempt Development standards will tell you what materials you can use, usually non-combustible materials or hardwood.
- No documents required as exempt development is a self-assessment
Submit the following with your Application for a Complying Development Certificate (CDC):
- Bush Fire Attack Level Risk Assessment Certificate
The certificate must be prepared by a suitably qualified consultant in bush fire risk assessment recognised by the NSW Rural Fire Service. The certificate must state:
- Bush fire Attack Level (BAL) that applies to the property.
- Proposed development conforms to the relevant specifications and requirements of Planning for Bush Fire Protection 2019.
- Proposed development meets the applicable development standards for bush fire prone land in State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.
Once we have received your Application for a CDC, our certifiers will assess that your development complies with AS3959-2009
Submit the following with your Development Application (DA):
- Bush fire Risk Assessment Report.
- Council's Bush fire Risk Assessment Certificate form (pdf. 14KB).
The report (and completion of certificate) must be prepared by a suitably qualified consultant in bush fire risk assessment recognised by the NSW Rural Fire Service. The report must state:
- Bush fire Attack Level (BAL) that applies to the property.
- Relevant Asset Protection Zones (APZ) required.
- Proposed development (including new landscaping) conforms to the relevant specifications and requirements of Planning for Bush fire Protection 2019 and AS3959-2009.
Make sure the plans referenced in the report and certificate match the plans submitted with your DA.
Where can I get help?
A suitably qualified consultant can prepare a Bush fire Attack Level Risk Assessment Certificate or Bush fire Risk Assessment Report for your development proposal. They can also provide advice on what building materials you can use in your development proposal.
For the purposes of State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 and section 4.14 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the NSW Rural Fire Service recognises the consultants within the following accreditation schemes:
- Fire Protection Association Australia, Bush fire Planning & Design (BPAD) – A and D Certified Practitioners
NSW Rural Fire Service
The NSW Rural Fire Service is an excellent source of information for building in a bush fire prone area and understanding bush fire terminology.
Will my DA be referred to the NSW Rural Fire Service?
The following DAs will be referred for consideration as part of the DA assessment process:
- DAs on land that has a Bush fire Attack Level Flame Zone rating (BAL-FZ).
- DAs that do not meet specific performance criteria in Planning for Bush fire Protection 2019 and rely on variations to acceptable solutions.
- Integrated Development: subdivision of bush fire prone land or development that is a Special Fire Protection Purpose (eg. child care centre, housing for seniors or people with disability).