The Food Forest

CSIRO Strawbale Bushfire Test

A revolution has been quietly taking place in the housing industry as more and more people choose to construct their homes with straw-bales and the rate of adoption of straw-bale building is set to accelerate as a result of the testing of straw-bale construction in extreme bushfire simulations by the CSIRO’s Building, Construction and Engineering Division in North Ryde, Sydney.

Test walls were subjected to sustained and then extreme heat (well over the specified bushfire front simulation of 29 kilowatts per square metre). But the huge gas burners produced no ignition or cracking in the rendered outer layer of the walls. As an extra test, the engineers drilled holes in the wall samples and tried again. Still no evidence emerged that suitably rendered straw-bale walls would fail in normal bushfire conditions. The result in the test which simulates a high exposure category bushfire will set the minds of fire services personnel at rest and pave the way to the building of straw-bale homes in bushfire-prone areas so long as approved construction criteria are met.