FWPA helping with resources for rebuilding efforts

Friday 14 Feb 2020

In response to recent tragic fires, Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) has updated its free resources to help re-build resilient homes in bushfire-prone areas. A program of workshops and further informational resources will be rolled out over the coming months in fire affected communities.

FWPA’s Managing Director, Ric Sinclair, said FWPA fully supports the current Australian standard (AS 3959-2018) and its structured approach to increasing bushfire attack levels (BALs) that gives flexibility to designers and homeowners in accordance to the appropriate fire risk. “There is often some confusion about what can and what can’t be built in bushfire prone areas” and the answer lies in determining the appropriate BAL,” said Sinclair.

To assist designers and home owners, FWPA has updated and released its online BAL calculator that can be accessed at the WoodSolutions website. The free design tool allows users to easily and quickly calculate the BAL for a particular site based on the details they input.

Also available is the updated Design Guide 4: Building with Timber in Bushfire prone areas, developed to assist architects, designers, builders and owners to understand what construction requirement is required for traditional building methods using timber for each BAL.

It is important to note timber framing and internal timber joinery can be used in all BAL categories and while external exposed timber becomes more restricted as the BAL increases. Sinclair said the loss of lives and homes has been heartbreaking but communities are looking to rebuild and need up-to-date information to support rebuild efforts and to know that timber construction is a viable option.

FWPA will also be hosting workshops for the community, local councils and building design professionals. As part of the workshops, informational collateral will be provided that can be taken away and considered by attendees. Other FWPA activities will focus on collecting information from the current fires to help support timber usage if there are any proposals to change the current standard.

“FWPA is an evidence-based organisation but there are some groups who seek to remove timber from building construction in bushfire prone areas without regard to evidence or an assessment of the costs and benefits,” said Sinclair. “As an industry, we need to remain vigilant to ensure that the right information is readily available to support and maintain important markets such as landscape timbers, framing and decking.”

Additionally, FWPA is developing a best-practice guide for log storage and salvage following a bushfire event. This will include some in-mill trials focused around recovery rates for wood exposed to the fires.

FWPA is receptive to any other initiatives that align with the company’s mission. “FWPA will continue to look at ways we can provide relevant information to industry, homeowners, builders and designers in order to improve the use of wood while maintaining the safety of dwellings and the community,” Sinclair concluded.

Source: FWPA

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