Project: Property Planning and Design in Bushfire-Prone Areas

About Property Planning and Design in Bushfire-Prone Areas

In recent years, states and territories have introduced requirements for accredited practitioners to assess land use and building proposals in bushfire-prone areas. These practitioners:

  • assess the bushfire attack level (BAL) of property 
  • determine appropriate construction techniques under AS3959 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas
  • develop planning and building applications to meet this standard
  • provide advice on bushfire planning.

The Property Service IRC is investigating whether a diploma qualification should be developed in the vocational education and training (VET) system to address this need. 

This project is at an exploratory stage. If the IRC finds initial evidence that this course meets community and industry needs, it will commission further consultation and the development of draft units and qualification structure.

We want to hear from you

  • Is there a community and industry need for this course?
  • Do the course aims (see below) meet this need?
  • Is a course at this AQF level appropriate for this job role? 
  • Are the proposed entry requirements appropriate?

To give feedback, or just to register your interest in this project, please phone or email Gordon Campbell (, 03 6234 0108).

For general enquiries, please contact Artibus Innovation (, 03 6218 2841).

State and territory regulations make a distinction between 1) practitioners who can undertake 'Method 1' BAL assessments and provide general advice, 2) practitioners who are qualified to assess deemed-to-satisfy designs under AS3959, and 3) practitioners who can assess alternative designs. We suggest that level 1 be achieved through a skill set within the quaification, level 2 through completion of the diploma, and level 3 through further study beyond the diploma. 

Rationale for developing the qualification

While there are university courses in Sydney and Melbourne for this occupational area, we believe there is a need for training to be delivered in other locations, where skills shortages are likely to be higher. 

We have identified a number of VET qualifications that provide a good background for, and natural progression into, this work. This qualification would provide a pathway for those with qualifications in, for example, firefighting, construction or local government.

Course aims

Graduates will have knowledge of:

  • bushfire behaviour, including models used in AS3959
  • how vegetation and topography affect BAL
  • laws on development and construction in bushfire-prone areas
  • the use of construction, landscaping, and subdivision layout to minimise bushfire risk
  • how bushfires are fought and controlled.

Graduates will be able to:

  • prepare a site plan identifying factors used to determine BAL
  • determine BAL 
  • prepare a BAL assessment report
  • identify design options to mitigate bushfire risk
  • identify construction requirements under AS3959
  • prepare a report on building compliance with AS3959
  • design subdivisions and property in bushfire-prone areas
  • submit development and construction applications 
  • write professional reports and documents
  • communicate and negotiate with key parties involved in application and approval
  • oversee implementation of bushfire protection measures in accordance with approved plans.

Current training

There are no current VET qualifications that fully address this need. The following qualifications, however, cover some of the required skills and knowledge: Diploma of Building Design, Diploma of Fire Systems Design, and Diploma of Public Safety (Firefighting Management).

A number of existing units of competency may be appropriate for this qualification, including PUAFIR518 Conduct and record a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessmentCPPBDN5003A Research compliance requirements for small-scale residential building design projects, CPPBDN5007A Inspect and analyse sites and produce measured drawings for small-scale building design projects, CPPBDN5010A Negotiate and finalise planning approval for small-scale building design projects, PUAEMR002 Assess emergency risk and PUAFIR509 Implement prevention strategies. Please note that this is a tentative and incomplete list. A more thorough analysis of existing units will be undertaken as the project progresses. We welcome any advice on suitable units for the proposed qualification.

Proposed entry requirements

Certificate III or qualification at a higher AQF level or three years’ full-time work experience in a relevant field such as construction, firefighting, fire systems design, engineering, building surveying, land-use planning, environmental studies, natural resource management, emergency management, local government or public sector management or public safety. 


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