Article: what motivates homeowners to reduce their wildfire risk?

Blog Post created by lisamariesinatra Employee on Oct 24, 2013

Understanding the attitudes and perceptions of homeowners who live in the wildland/urban interface (WUI) is the key to more effective outreach and eduction efforts to WUI homeowners, according to an article, Fire on the Mountain:  What Motivates Homeowners to Reduce their Wildfire Risk?, in the 2013 September/October Science Bulletin from the USDA Forest Service


The financial costs of fighting fire in the WUI are enormous - in one survey of land managers, they estimated that between 50 and 95% of firefighting expenditures were attributable to defense of private property. (Photo Credit:  Bryan Day)

As wildfire professionals know, there are many resources available to homeowners that explain how they can reduce the risk of losing their home to a wildfire, but education and information at face value does not always translate into action, the article states. So, the question remains: what does it actually take to get people to change their behavior to reduce their risk of loss? Some of the key findings in the article try and answer this question:
  • Informal social networks (e.g., talking amongst neighbors) were more important than institutional arrangements (e.g., insurance mandates) in terms of promoting firewise mitigation actions.
  • Wildfire information received from local volunteer fire departments, county wildfire specialists, and neighbors was also positively related to higher mitigation levels.
  • Experiencing a major wildfire in the area raised the level of concern of WUI residents for their health and property compared to pre-fire levels.
  • WUI residents tend to underestimate their levels of wildfire risk when their self-assessment is compared to an assessment by a professional. 

Read the entire article.

What are you finding out in the field when you talk to residents? What has been successful? Where do we still need some work? Share your stories with us and our online community. 

For more information on NFPA's resources available for homeowners looking to reduce their wildfire risk, visit our Firewise website and take a look at the "Know Your Role/Homeowners and Residents" page on the Fire Adapted Communities website to see how you can work with other members of your community.