Bushfire protection at aged care home

A northern NSW aged care facility that sustained hail damage now requires roof replacements that include bushfire protection measures.

Ferm Engineering, in conjunction with Helping Hands Planning & Design Pty Ltd, was commissioned to ensure new roofs and patios being installed at 135 independent living units within the Marian Grove Retirement Village meet retrospectively imposed bushfire safety standards.

Ferm and Helping Hands are experts in the field. Helping Hands CEO and Principal Consultant David Boverman was previously Development Planning & Policy Manager with the NSW Rural Fire Service. Ferm CEO Steve Burton was a member of a committee of fire protection professionals that developed the bushfire sprinkler standard AS5414-2012, which specifies requirements for designing, installing and maintaining water spray systems to protect buildings against bushfire exposure.

Steve and David worked with architects to develop roof and building design criteria to retrofit the Marian Grove units to ensure they were more hail proof and met the NSW Planning Department’s bushfire standards.

“This is not easy to achieve and required a performance approach to balance the client’s needs and the code requirements,” Steve said.

“We conducted a fire safety risk assessment against the bushfire standard AS3959, then found a solution that met the requirements but rationalised final design criteria through careful product selection and cost-effective architectural designs.”

The project follows the NSW Government’s PBP 2019 Planning for Bush Fire Protection approach to performance design.

Marian Grove, run by Sawtell Catholic Care, offers a range of apartments, villas and townhouses in the Coffs Harbour suburb of Toormina. Set within 11 hectares of grounds, much of which is lush, green vegetation, the complex is now considered to be in a bushfire-prone area.