Bushfire resilient buildings

Standards and regulations cover bushfire risk management in different Bushfire Assessment Level bands.

But they give little guidance on how buildings should be constructed in these zones and what is going to protect a property from burning to the ground.

Poor construction practices, that might (for example) leave gaps in construction wide enough to let embers into a property, can undermine the good work performed by carrying out an effective BAL assessment.

So what would a bushfire resilient building look like?  What materials would it use?  How would it be designed and constructed?

And what changes are needed to existing standards to ensure that a building in a flame zone is still standing long after the fire front has passed through?

The significant destruction caused by bushfires annually suggests that it is time for a different approach should be taken for building design in bushfire-prone areas.

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Dr Maria Kornakova

Manager - Bushfire Services, FPA Australia

Dr Maria Kornakova is Manager Bushfire Services at FPA Australia. Architect by training, Maria completed Masters degree in Urban and Regional planning as Fulbright Scholar. She successfully completed PhD at the University of Melbourne and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Melbourne and Massey University, NZ. The key focus of her research and professional interest is bushfire risk reduction practices through building, planning and architecture. Maria transferred to the industry to practically apply skills and knowledge gained over the years of her academic career and joined FPA Australia in December 2018 as Bushfire Services Coordinator and was promoted as Manager two years later.

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Stephen Kip

Fire Safety Engineer & Building Regulatory Consultant, SKIP Consulting

Stephen Kip has been a Director of SKIP Consulting, an engineering and regulatory consultancy firm for the past 14 years.

Prior to that he has held senior engineering positions with Warrington Fire Research (now Exova Warrington Fire) and the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) and was the deputy to the Building Commissioner at the Building Control Commission in Victoria, Australia.

He holds a degree in Building and a master’s degree in Engineering and has additional post graduate qualifications in Fire Safety Engineering and Building Project Management. He is a board member of the Australian Building Codes Board, an Adjunct Associate Professor of the academic staff at the School of Engineering at Victoria University, a board member of the Bushfire Building Council of Australia, an Honorary Fellow of the academic staff of the University of Melbourne School of Architecture, and a Fellow of Engineers Australia.


Mark Potter

Risk and Emergency Planning Lead, Fire Risk Consultants

Mark Potter is a proven executive with experience in providing leadership across complex and diverse roles. He has a strong background in developing internal and external relationships, operating in complex and technical environments, leading teams through significant change and steering strategy into action.

 Mark’s career has seen him undertake executive level roles within the emergency management, vocational training and not for profit sectors. During his 30 year career within the emergency management sector, he has performed various roles, including bushfire safety, structural fire safety and incident management. Mark has extensive experience assessing emergency risk from the landscape level to individual properties and turning this into effective management plans. In his current role he works with small to large organisations in undertaking risk assessments in a bushfire and emergency management context.

In 2021 Mark was elected to the Fire Protection Association Australia Board and is also Chair of FPA Australia’s Bushfire Technical Advisory Committee (TAC20).


Leah Bertholini

Acting Manager, Development Assessment Services, CFS

Leah joined the South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS) in August 2012 as an Information Support Officer to the Building Fire Safety Unit (BFSU); followed by the role of Bushfire Safety Officer (Residential), performing development assessments for dwellings, tourist accommodation and other habitable buildings located in areas mapped as Bushfire Prone across the state of South Australia.

Leah represents SA CFS on the Bushfire Planning subgroup of the Built Environment and Planning Technical Group (BEPTG) facilitated by The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) providing comment on bushfire building and planning matters. As well as providing comments on strategic planning directions for Bushfire Prone Areas in South Australia in the form of Development Plan Amendments and more recently the Planning and Design Code reform currently being untaken by the state of South Australia.

Her commitment to professional development saw Leah achieving Certificate III Public Safety (Firefighting Operations) with a view to complete further training in Incident Management and Bushfire Protection for developments in Bushfire Prone Areas. She is also currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Bushfire Protection at the University of Western Sydney.

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Max Garner

Secretary, Bushfire Resilience Inc.

Max Garner has led an active 40 family Community Fireguard Group since 2008; created with others monthly reporting of local cumulative rainfall (an indicator of bushfire risk); with others developed Meerkat, a communication platform that community groups and households can choose to adopt so household members are sent notifications by SMS, WhatsApp, Email and Voice about bushfire risks – weather forecasts and fire incidents; initiated the Be Ready Warrandyte project in 2011; identified the need and assisted in various activities that led to the creation of the Shire of Nillumbik’s Bushfire Mitigation Strategy; initiated Bushfire Resilience Inc. (

Max wrote the technical submission that enabled the SECV to get insurance after Ash Wednesday 1983; wrote the Bushfire Mitigation Manual, a reference document of all technical standards and practices; project managed the development of the world’s best practice LV aerial bundled cable system – a new technology to replace bare lines that started bushfires.