The BCA offers a Deem-to-satisfy approach for windows and doors in BAL-40 bushfire zones. What this means is, you can choose a product that has been physically tested and certified for use in that application or you can satisfy the requirement by following a formula with a non-tested product. The Deem-to-satisfy requirements for BAL-40 bushfire windows are severe and result in a window which is not only difficult and costly to manufacture but in many cases aesthetically displeasing.
AWS has prepared a detailed white paper which illustrates the difference between deem-to-satisfy and tested windows and door systems for BAL-40 bushfire zones.
Deem-to-satisfy vs Tested Systems
AWS BAL-40 rated windows systems have been successfully tested to comply with relevant Australian Standards for windows in BAL-40 bushfire zones. The Building Code of Australia requires that all window openings in a BAL-40 bushfire zone are screened. To our understanding, the logic behind this decision is that whilst you are likely to close the door when evacuating or sheltering in your home from a fire front, it is reasonable to assume you may forget to close the windows. The installation of a compliant bushfire screen over all window openings is intended to offer some level of protection in the event of this taking place.
In a BAL-40 bushfire zone the opening portion of all windows must be screened internally or externally with metal screens with an aperture of 2mm made from corrosion resistant steel, bronze or aluminum in accordance with the Australian Standard.
Do you need to screen windows in a BAL-40 bushfire zone?
About BAL-40 Bushfire Tested Systems
AWS has developed and tested an extensive range of Vantage, Elevate™ and ThermalHEART™ aluminium windows and doors to meet and exceed BCA requirements for compliance under Australian Standard AS3959-2009 for windows and doors in a BAL-40 bushfire zone. These products are engineered, tested and certified to withstand the conditions likely to occur in a BAL-40 zone and are designed to help you protect your home whilst still delivering unprecedented style, efficiency and functionality for your lifestyle.
AWS BAL-40 rated door systems have been successfully tested to comply with relevant Australian Standards for doors in BAL-40 bushfire zones without the use of screens.
The BCA does not call for the use of screens on BAL-40 tested door systems. Most of us like to screen door openings for security and as a barrier to insects. If you wish to screen your BAL-40 rated door system, AWS recommends the use of an approved fire rated screen in accordance with the Australian Standard.
In a BAL-40 bushfire zone, where a BAL-40 tested door system is being used, there is no requirement to screen the operable part of the door.
Do you need to screen doors in a BAL-40 bushfire zone?
AWS BAL-40 bushfire rated windows and doors are fitted with toughened glass. Float or laminated glass is not suitable for use in a single glazed BAL-40 tested window or door. Where double glazing is required, AWS has tested BAL-40 bushfire rated windows and doors with a double glazed unit consisting of toughened glass on the exterior pane and annealed glass on the interior pane. At this stage, AWS has conducted no testing of BAL-40 rated windows and doors with double glazed units consisting of laminated and toughened glass combinations – although this is likely to occur in the future.
Do you need to use special glass?
The heat from a passing fire front as it moves over your home will be intense. BAL-40 tested window systems are designed to minimise the risk of loss of property and life during a bushfire attack. The role these windows play in protecting your home from the bushfire is to reduce the risk of windows shattering or being compromised allowing embers to enter the building and internal furnishings to catch alight. BAL-40 tested windows are designed to act as a barrier to the fire front. They will not function following a severe bushfire attack. Components will melt, hardware will seize up, doors and windows may not be operable following the passing of the fire front. AWS recommends that occupants sheltering from a fire front within their home have suitable tools to break the glass in their BAL-40 rated windows and doors to allow ease of escape following the passing of the fire front.
Will my windows still work after a bushfire front has passed over the house?
Servicing and maintenance of BAL-40 bushfire rated windows and doors
Each component used in manufacturing a BAL-40 bushfire compliant window is purposefully selected. Should your BAL-40 rated windows or doors become damaged or require servicing, it is essential that you contact AWS to ensure appropriate servicing and correct selection of parts to ensure the integrity of the BAL-40 bushfire rated window is maintained.
The opening portion of a BAL-40 tested window must be screened with a suitable screen in accordance with Australian Standards.
There is no requriement to screen a BAL-40 tested door system.