The Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria in 2009 caused great personal loss and property damage. Non–combustible construction offered some benefits as the building could be configured so that failure of one element did not lead to failure of the structure. These concepts were fire tested by CSIRO using a full size building complemented by smaller scale testing of elements using a thermal action curve which conservatively modelled a real bushfire.
Following the successful development of a system which provided a robust, economical solution, the challenge was to develop tools to assist in the design and construction of buildings. It was decided that the development of a standard was the best method to allow the information be transferred to practitioners.
The paper reviews the performance requirements of the National Construction Code and explains where fire engineering is combined with experimental results to develop solutions for different levels of bushfire exposure.
A case study of a housing development in Brisbane is presented. The principles of the new standard were applied as an Alternative Solution to improve the bushfire resistance and reduce the constructed cost of a 76 townhouse project.
Paper by Watson, K., Kelly, M., Bennetts, I. and Leonard, J. in Australasian Structural Engineering Conference 2014.