The bushfires raging through Western and Southern Australia in recent weeks act to highlight the importance of suitable construction methods for building in bushfire prone areas.
Western Australia is lagging behind the rest of the country in its application of the Australian Standard for Construction of Buildings in Bushfire-Prone Areas (AS3959:2009) and pressure is now firmly on politicians to implement the new mapping for bushfire prone areas through legislation.
Although many specifiers consider a range of options for large building components such as doors and windows in bushfire areas, it’s good to remember that the devil is in the detail.
Small components, such as weep holes in masonry construction, also have requirements under the Australian Standard for Construction in Bushfire Prone Areas (AS3959:2009).
Screening weep holes is important and prevents ember entry into the wall cavity.
For specifiers, weep holes can create both a literal and metaphorical black hole. If no compliant weep hole former is specified then there is an additional cost of retrofitting a product. This often involves multiple inspections by the certifier, wasted time and money, and the general annoyance of everyone involved.
This does not mean, however, that you have to sacrifice design style to ensure your building plans comply.
Weepa Products now offer a range of bushfire compliant weep hole formers for standard brick, 50mm high brick (Split or Roman) and concrete block. Whatever your project you can choose between more economical options and more high end, aesthetically pleasing ones.
The High Performance Bushfire Weepa was designed to meet the requirements of AS3959:2009 whilst remaining affordable on even the most modest budget. Its polypropylene (PP) case contains a polyvinylchloride (PVC) grate assembly, which helps to keep the stainless steel ember guard in place during bushfires. It is suitable for all Bushfire Attack Levels (BALs) except for BAL FZ (Flame Zone).
The more aesthetically pleasing Stainless Steel Weepa is suitable for use in BAL FZ in addition to all other BALs. The perfect finish of the flawless 316 Stainless Steel grate, set in an entirely 316 Stainless Steel casing, is what sets it apart. It is available in a 50mm height for use with “Split” or “Roman” bricks. These are now a possibility on any bushfire prone site, with the additional benefit of a beautiful weep hole.
Although specifying for bushfire prone areas is commonplace, it’s important to remember that it shouldn’t be formulaic. There are options for every component and the client is going to look at the small details for the life of the building. Using the product best suited to their budget, bushfire, pest exclusion and aesthetic needs is what they’ll remember.
For more information on Weepa Products visit www.weepa.com.au.
Image: Weepa Products has a range of weep hole formers suitable for all applications: (from left) Standard Weepa, Bushfire Weepa and Stainless Steel Weepa - all available in two sizes.