The role of construction standards on building impact of the 2013 Linksview Wildfire, Australia

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Fire Safety Journal


The 2013 Linksview fire destroyed 195 houses in the Blue Mountains of NSW in 2013. In this study, we examined the role of construction codes on the impact of houses exposed to the fire, by extracting details of construction year and standard for 466 houses from the archives of the Blue Mountains City Council. Houses built to standards imposed from 2000 fared better than previous standards, though post-2000 houses assessed at Flame Zone level were vulnerable. Construction year was also a good predictor of impact with pre-1990 houses suffering more than twice the level of impact as post-2000 houses. Older houses tended to have more vegetation within 10 m of the house, and this probably partly explains why they are more vulnerable. Year of modification (i.e. additions to a house) was a worse predictor than year of construction suggesting that imposing strict standards on modifications does not change the vulnerability of the whole house. We briefly discuss four policy implications of the study: Construction standards are clearly useful; Houses in the Flame Zone are vulnerable; Lack of maintenance is a problem; and Construction Standards for building modifications do not improve the resilience of the house.

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