New economic study on wildland fires

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Mar 8, 2012

As a part of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy the wildland fire community is currently grappling with the monumental task of collecting and analyzing multi-jurisdictional fire reporting data. In order to better understand the national wildland fire risk management profile, two National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) economists, Douglas Thomas and David Butry recently published a research paper in the Journal of Forestry (January/February 2012)

The main goal of this paper was to study the economic impact of wildland fires within municipal jurisdictions.  The authors analyzed the US Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) fire incident data from 2002 to 2006.  Using a ‘national estimates methodology’ that was co-authored by NFPA’s John Hall, the authors calculated the annual average loss from wildland fire occurring within municipal jurisdictions to be $308 million (per year).  On average 116,971 wildland fire incidents per year were reported in this jurisdiction.  Each year these fires are responsible for, on average 15 civilian (non-fire service) fatalities, 88 civilian injuries, and 160 million in direct property losses.  It is important to note that these numbers do not include federal, state or tribal jurisdictions.  This research paper underscores the importance of NFIRS data and how it is a critical component to understanding the U.S. national wildland fire risk management profile.


Direct property losses

Graph: Direct property losses per year (Thomas & Butry, 2012)

-Hylton Haynes