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Trying not to get burned: Understanding homeowners' wildfire risk-mitigation behaviors

Author(s): Hannah Brenkert-Smith, Patricia A. Champ, Nicholas Flores
Year Published: 2012
Description:

Three causes have been identified for the spiraling cost of wildfire suppression in the United States: climate change, fuel accumulation from past wildfire suppression, and development in fire-prone areas. Because little is likely to be performed to halt the effects of climate on wildfire risk, and because fuel-management budgets cannot keep pace with fuel accumulation let alone reverse it, changing the behaviors of existing and potential homeowners in fire-prone areas is the most promising approach to decreasing the cost of suppressing wildfires in the wildland-urban interface and increasing the odds of homes surviving wildfire events. Wildfire education efforts encourage homeowners to manage their property to decrease wildfire risk. Such programs may be more effective with a better understanding of the factors related to homeowners' decisions to undertake wildfire risk-reduction actions. In this study, we measured whether homeowners had implemented 12 wildfire risk-mitigation measures in 2 Colorado Front Range counties. We found that wildfire information received from local volunteer fire departments and county wildfire specialists, as well as talking with neighbors about wildfire, were positively associated with higher levels of mitigation. Firsthand experience in the form of preparing for or undertaking an evacuation was also associated with a higher level of mitigation. Finally, homeowners who perceived higher levels of wildfire risk on their property had undertaken higher levels of wildfire-risk mitigation on their property.

Citation: Brenkert-Smith, Hannah; Champ, Patricia A.; Flores, Nicholas. 2012. Trying not to get burned: understanding homeowners' wildfire risk-mitigation behaviors. Environmental Management 50(6):1139-1151. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-012-9949-8
Topic(s): Risk, Wildland Urban Interface
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 21882
FRAMES RCS number: 17101
Record updated: Sep 16, 2020