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BAL Rating, what is it and do I have one?

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Whether you are having a professional install your deck or are planning on doing it yourself, you will have to know your Bushfire Attack Level, also known as a BAL rating. This rating is a way of quantifying your risk of a bushfire. The BAL ratings are labelled LOW, 12.5, 19, 29, 40 and Flame Zone, with LOW meaning you don’t have much risk and Flame Zone meaning that you could get a full-on attack from a fire. The BAL Rating of your property informs your choice of decking materials.

The basic idea behind the BAL Rating is that some places are more prone to burning down than others. Four conditions contribute to your particular BAL rating. The first is your region. Some places are just drier and windier than others. You can find maps of the area online.

A bigger influence on your BAL rating is the surrounding vegetation. There are many types of vegetation from forest to tussock moorland, and each type has a certain level of flammability. Some types have a lot of trees that can blow burning branches on your house, and that raises your risks. Other types are full of plants that are typically dry, again raising your risk of a fire sneaking up on your home.

Since fire generally travels in certain patterns, the BAL Rating generally takes in the slope of the land that the vegetation is on and how far away it is standing from your home. The further the plant life is from your house, the less chance there is of embers and flames engulfing your property.

All this may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. The Australian Standards 3959 sets it all out point-by-point, which can be downloaded here. There is also a free calculator at http://www.balreport.com.au/ where you can figure out your BAL rating, along with some PDFs to help you further. Once you figure out your BAL rating, you can follow some simple precautions.

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Experts recommend keeping flammable material 20 meters away from your house, keep your garden trimmed and free of debris, and remove any overhanging tree branches. Most importantly, use materials suitable for your BAL rating when building. We have the right products to make decks for even a BAL Rating of Flame Zone, so contact us. We will make sure your home and deck are safe.