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Victorian Building Commissioner echoes Coalition's call for bushfire bunker standard.

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The Hon Bruce Billson MP Shadow Minister for Sustainable Development and Cities

The Opposition Minister for Sustainable Development and Cities, the Hon Bruce Billson MP has welcomed Victorian Building Commissioner Anthony Arnel’s call for the urgent development of fire bunker standards in the aftermath of Victoria’s fatal bushfires in February.

Mr Arnel has raised concerns, residents in bushfire prone areas will rush out and install fire bunkers without being fully aware of critical technical and safety issues.

Mr Arnels concerns follows those made by Mr Billson on 12 March 2009 when he urged the State Government to make examination of fire bunkers a priority, and to set in place a task force to provide some early guidance to those families who are rebuilding their homes.

Mr Billson said people seeking to rebuild their homes and rebuild their lives are looking for guidance about what fire bunkers need to do, how they need to be designed and constructed and what standards they need to meet.

‘In the absence of such clear building regulations and performance standards, I fear there are some in the community who may invest substantial amounts of money on what they feel is adequate protection from fire, only to discover that the structure has not been verified as fit for purpose.

‘While some firms do have experience in producing products with fire resistant properties and this know how is being used in the construction of fire bunkers, the fact is no building standard currently exists and an Australian standard to ensure that those structures meet performance standards is not in place.’ Mr Billson said.

‘We need rapid urgent action by the Government to bring together the Australian Building Codes Board, Archicentre, the Master Builders Association, Standards Australia and emergency services representative bodies to provide clarity for individuals contemplating spending substantial amounts of money on what they feel is the ultimate fire protection measure.

‘There is no regulation on fire bunker maintenance and their use and there is currently little understanding of where oxygen sources can be safely stored and what is actually required to make a fire bunker safe in the event of a bushfire.

‘With the rebuilding process underway in areas ravaged in February’s fires, now is the time to get it right and get a clearly defined standard in place for the construction of fire bunkers and for their maintenance,’ Mr Billson said.

Mr Billson also commended the Victorian Building Commission’s production of a community bushfire information sheet.