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Awareness and adoption of FireSmart Canada: barriers and incentives

Author(s): Mohamed Ergibi, Hayley Hesseln
Year Published: 2020
Description:

Homeowners in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) are strongly encouraged to protect their property from the risk of damage from forest fires. FireSmart Canada, similar to Firewise used in the United States, and Community Fireguard, Community FireWise, Community FireSafe and the Bushfire Ready Action Groups in Australia, provides recommendations based on physical science that found treating fuels in the home ignition zone could mitigate losses caused by wildfire. The programs' recommendations are based on experimental research demonstrating that structures are less likely to ignite if they are constructed of fire-resistant material, have burnable debris removed from the structure's proximity, and use fire-resistant vegetation in their landscaping around the home-ignition zone (HIZ). However, property owners in the WUI have not fully committed to self-protection, which is true across many international jurisdictions. This research aimed to assess socio-demographic factors that influence awareness of FireSmart and the adoption of FireSmart activities in Canada using binary logistic regression based on a survey of Canadians. Results indicate that 77% of survey respondents have never heard of FireSmart Canada. For those who had heard of FireSmart, the most influential factor leading to adoption was the perceived risk of damage from wildland fire. When asked for suggestions for how to promote adoption, survey respondents favoured positive approaches such as incentives tied to homeowner insurance rather than punitive actions such as fines for noncompliance. While this research was conducted in Canada, results have implications for many fire-prone jurisdictions given that fire in the WUI is a growing problem worldwide. Having a better understanding of the barriers and challenges to self-protection will help fire managers and policymakers more successfully promote and implement protective strategies that work within local contexts. Whereas wildfires constitute a small proportional loss from all types of fire, we recommend that fire officials work with the insurance industry and other locally relevant public and private agencies to raise awareness of the risk of wildland fire, prevention programs, and the need to act on recommendations.

Citation: Ergibi, Mohamed; Hesseln, Hayley. 2020. Awareness and adoption of FireSmart Canada: barriers and incentives. Forest Policy and Economics 119:102271. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2020.102271
Topic(s): Fuels, Risk, Wildland Urban Interface
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 22133
FRAMES RCS number: 61685
Record updated: Nov 4, 2020