MEDIA RELEASE

Monday 25 June 2018

BUILDING RESILIENCE AGAINST BUSHFIRES: Building industry experts meet in the Blue Mountains to raise the bar on bushfire safety
Building industry leaders across Australia will gather in September for the fourth annual Australian Bushfire Building Conference and Community Forum in the Blue Mountains.

The Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise (BMEE) conference will have guest speakers from a range of disciplines from landscape architects, the rural fire service to buildings and scientists to address building safety in bushfire emergencies.

The program features local and international experts about bushfire building practices, research and regulations, with keynote speakers from the event’s major partner, NSW Rural Fire Service, Western Sydney University, the CSIRO and US-based Senior Fire Ecologist Dr. Christopher Dicus, who will examine the recent California fires that destroyed around 10,000 structures.

As Professor and Coordinator of the Wildland Fire and Fuels Management Program at California Polytechnic State University, amongst many other academic fire ecology roles, Dr Dicus brings a wealth of experience and knowledge on post-fire disaster assessment.

Held in the Blue Mountains – home to one of the most bushfire-vulnerable residential areas in NSW – the conference draws on the region’s close knowledge of bushfire recovery. This year it offers a tour of bushfire-affected areas in the upper and lower Blue Mountains, a region which saw the loss of 200 homes in the October 2013 bushfires.

BMEE CEO, Bernard Fehon, said the event gives building industry professionals around Australia the chance to play a part in keeping our communities safe.
“Everyone from builders to the Rural Fire Service, architects and planners will be there to discuss current issues, innovations and future trends in bushfire building safety, and this dialogue informs future regulations,” said Mr Fehon.

Director of Community Resilience for the NSW RFS, Corey Shackleton said the message of ‘be prepared’ went a long way in helping the RFS and residents defend homes in the bushfires that raged through the NSW coastal town of Tathra from March 18 this year.

“While 65 houses were destroyed in the fires, 800 houses went unscathed, including houses built after building codes were amended following the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria,” he said.

“Bushfire safety measures for new builds are worthwhile, not just for the safety of residents but for the safety of our fire fighters as well.”

The event is not just for professionals – residents of bushfire zones will also benefit from the free expo and forum held at Blue Mountains Community Hub in Springwood on Saturday, 8 September. NSW RFS will be there to talk about protecting your home during a bushfire and where to shelter in a house in a bushfire emergency.

Mr Shackleton said: “as well as having a plan for yourself and your family, a well-maintained yard and no leaf litter in the gutters goes along way for bushfire protection”. “Then you can take further steps to make the structure more resilient, but common sense is key.  “Our process is to be ready for what could be: plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

If you’re in the building industry and would like to be a part of the ideas and information exchange that could save homes in your community, register now at https://bmee.org.au/bushfire-building-conference

Key dates & locations:

  • Thursday 6 September 2018: Pre-conference field trip (optional)
  • Friday 7 September 2018: Australian Bushfire Building Conference, Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, Leura
  • Saturday 8 September 2018: Bushfire Building Community Day – Forum & Expo, Blue Mountains Community Hub, Springwood – FREE Event
Early-bird Conference tickets are on sale until 23 July ($180 + gst, optional field trip $80 + gst)

For more information visit www.bmee.org.au

Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise
2 Civic Place Katoomba NSW 2780
02 4782 6555
admin@bmee.org.au
www.bmee.org.au