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Exploring wildfire-prone community trust in wildfire management agencies

Author(s): Rebecca Rasch, Sarah M. McCaffrey
Year Published: 2019

This research examines how trustworthy wildfire management agencies are perceived to be in five wildfire-prone communities. Trust was most often expressed in the context of agency abilities or competence (calculative trust), whereas distrust was framed in the context of intentions or the belief that the agency is not acting in the best interest of the community (relational trust). Five factors identified as closely tied to an individual’s trust in wildfire agencies are: communication from the agency; perceived relations among different management agencies, as well as between agencies and the public; experiences with wildfire agencies, particularly during wildfire events; experience with prescribed burns; and values or preferences for management actions. Managers hoping to build, maintain, or restore trust with communities may need to work on building a reputation of both competence and intention to act in the best interest of the community. Results indicate that level of trust in agencies varies considerably, both across and within communities, but that applied at the right scale, the wildfire community archetype framework, a method for rapidly identifying the level of adaptive capacity in wildfire-prone communities appears to be a relatively good indicator of the level of trust community members have in an agency’s abilities.

Citation: Rasch, Rebecca; McCaffrey, Sarah M. 2019. Exploring wildfire-prone community trust in wildfire management agencies. Forest Science 65(5):652-663. https://doi.org/10.1093/forsci/fxz027
Topic(s): Human Dimensions of Fire Management, Wildland Urban Interface
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 20299
FRAMES RCS number: 58314
Record updated: Nov 21, 2019