Bushfire Rated Windows & Doors Explained
People from overseas often joke about how Australia is full of animals that can kill you.
Admittedly, we do seem to have more than our fair share of poisonous snakes and spiders, not to mention crocodiles and sharks.
But one of the greatest risks Australians (and their homes) face has nothing to do with animals.
Instead, it has everything to do with our climate.
Thanks to our hot, dry, drought-prone climate, many Australians live in areas that are prone to bushfire. And with the increasingly extreme weather conditions of the past few years, serious bushfires have become an all too familiar Australian summer experience.
Importantly, the risk of losing your home to a bushfire isn’t just from the fire front itself. Many homes are actually damaged or destroyed because of burning embers and airborne debris. So any precaution you take to defend your home needs to take this scenario into consideration too.
Australian Bushfire Building Standards
In 2009-10, the Australian Standard for building in bushfire-prone areas was updated.
The standard, AS3959:2009, aims to reduce the risk of loss of life and property in areas with a higher risk of bushfire.
According to AS3959:2009, if you build or renovate a home in a bushfire-prone area, it must meet certain bushfire ratings in terms of design, construction, and materials. This includes your choice of windows and doors. By meeting this standard, your home will have a greater chance of making it through a bushfire unscathed.
Bushfire Attack Levels
AS3959:2009 describes six different degrees of bushfire risk, or “Bushfire Attack Levels” (BALs). They range from BAL-LOW, which is very low risk, through to BAL-FZ, which indicates an extremely high risk of ember attack, airborne burning debris, radiant heat exposure, and direct flame exposure. For each BAL, there are specific standards you need to meet in the construction of your home.
(For a comprehensive description of each BAL, check the relevant Australian Standard publication.)
What This Means for Your Home
If the home you’re building or renovating is located in a BAL-LOW area, you do not need to comply with any specific construction requirements.
However, homes located in areas with a bushfire risk of BAL-12.5 or higher must comply with AS3959:2009. Your specific BAL will determine the level of defence you’re required to have. This ranges from protecting against embers, to defending against direct flame.
(To determine your home’s BAL, consult with your local council or fire authority, or use this straightforward tool.)
What This Means for Your Windows & Doors
If you’re constructing or renovating a home in a bushfire-prone area, your windows and doors must comply with AS3959:2009.
To help you meet these requirements, Bradnam’s has developed the FlameShield™ range of bushfire rated windows and doors. Our FlameShield™ products comply with BAL-12.5, BAL-19, BAL-29, and BAL-40. The range includes the following products:
- Sliding windows
- Awning windows
- Casement windows
- Double Hung windows
- Bi-fold windows
- Sliding Doors
- Hinged doors
- Bi-fold Doors
We also have the FlameShield™ louvre windows, which are compliant with BAL-12.5 and BAL-19.
Because the vast majority of the FlameShield™ range is compliant up to BAL-40, you can be confident that it provides superior bushfire protection. That means that when you use a FlameShield™ window or door, you’ll not only comply with the Australian Standard – you’ll also enjoy greater peace of mind.
Defending Your Home
Your home’s building materials are a key factor in protecting against bushfires. However, they’re not the only defence you need. In addition to building to meet the Australian Standard, you should defend your home in other ways, including managing the vegetation on your property, regularly clearing away potentially-flammable debris, and ensuring access to water sources, just to name a few.
It’s also important to remember that even if you take all the necessary precautions, there’s no guarantee your home will be safe. But with bushfire rated windows and doors that comply with the Australian Standard, you’re definitely well on your way to giving your home its best possible chance.
(Disclaimer: This article provides an introduction to the issue of bushfire defence for your home, and does not offer comprehensive advice. The information contained in this article is general in nature, and does not take your particular circumstances into account. To learn more about bushfire risks, ratings, and defence, consult the relevant government and emergency services websites.)