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Economic analysis of geospatial technologies for wildfire suppression

Author(s): Hayley Hesseln, Gregory S. Amacher, Aaron M. Deskins
Year Published: 2010

Geospatial technologies used to fight large fires are becoming increasingly available, yet no rigorous study exists of their effects on suppression costs or fire losses, nor do we know whether these technologies allow more efficient combination of firefighting assets used to suppress fires. The high cost of these technologies merits an assessment of these values. Using data from all large-scale fires originating on US Forest Service land greater than 1620 ha in the Northern Rocky Mountains for the 2000-03 fire seasons, we estimate random parameter models of total fire expenditures, agency fire suppression costs, fire duration, and area burned. Site factors, geospatial technology use, and firefighting assets are used as explanatory variables in these regressions. In addition, stochastic cost frontier models are estimated for suppression costs to judge the efficiency of input use for fires with and without geospatial technology use. We find that although geospatial technology use does not appear to significantly increase suppression costs when other factors are controlled, it does seem to allow more efficient allocation of resources such as labour and capital by fire managers seeking to minimise the costs of controlling large fires. Both of these results suggest that the high cost of using these technologies may be offset by improvements in the use of costly firefighting assets by fire managers.

Citation: Hesseln, Hayley; Amacher, Gregory S.; Deskins, Aaron. 2010. Economic analysis of geospatial technologies for wildfire suppression. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 19(4):468-477.
Topic(s): Fire & Economics, Fire Suppression
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 8398
FRAMES RCS number: 8423
Record updated: May 15, 2018