Human Dimensions of Fire

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Decision biases and heuristics among emergency managers: Just like the public they manage for?

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This study found that emergency managers exhibit some of the same decision biases, sensitivity to framing, and heuristics found in studies of the general public, even when making decisions in their area of expertise. A national survey of county-level emergency managers finds that managers appear more risk averse when the outcomes of actions are framed as gains than when equivalent outcomes are framed as losses, a finding that is consistent with prospect theory. The study also found that the perceived actions of emergency managers in neighboring jurisdictions affect the choices a manager makes. In addition, our managers show evidence of attribution bias, outcome bias, and difficulties processing numerical information, particularly probabilities compared to frequencies. Each of these departures from perfect rationality points to potential shortfalls in public managers’ decision making. There are opportunities to improve decision making through reframing problems, providing training in structured decision-making processes, and employing different choice architectures to nudge behavior in a beneficial direction

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Minorities are most vulnerable when wildfires strike in the US

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This study, which can be found in the journal PLoS One, suggests that people of color, especially Native Americans, face more risk from wildfires than whites. It is another example of how the kinds of disasters exacerbated by climate change often hit minorities and the poor the hardest.

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Socioeconomic vulnerability to ecological changes to national forests and grasslands in the Southwest

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The flow of ecosystem services derived from forests and grasslands in the Southwestern United States may change in the future. People and communities may be vulnerable if they are exposed, are sensitive, and have limited ability to adapt to ecological changes. Geospatial descriptions of ecosystem services, projected climate-related ecological changes, and socioeconomic conditions are used to assess socioeconomic vulnerability to changes in the provision of ecosystem services by national forests and grasslands in the Southwest. Vulnerability is uneven in the Southwest due to varying projected effects of climate on forest ecosystem services, and different levels of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of people in the region.

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Restoring resilience at the landscape scale: Lessons learned from the Blue Mountains

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The Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service’s “Eastside Restoration Strategy” aimed to improve forest health conditions by accelerating the pace and scale of restoration on national forests in eastern Oregon and Washington. As part of this effort, the Regional Office created a dedicated interdisciplinary Blue Mountains Restoration Strategy Team (ID Team) to conduct landscape-level planning across four national forests and innovate strategies to more effectively reach planning decisions. We conducted interviews with 25 key informants, observed meetings, analyzed documents, and worked with an advisory group to understand transferrable insights from the project.

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Where the WUI is: Implications for wildfire mitigation and outreach communities

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The WUI is often synonymous with fire risk to buildings, but this research suggests that this is not the case in all fire-prone states. While fire outreach was often present near areas where buildings are destroyed by wildfire, many communities are established after major fires.

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Facilitation, coordination, and trust in landscape-level forest restoration

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Collaborative forest management efforts often encounter challenges related to process and stakeholder relationships. To address these challenges, groups may employ the services of coordinators and facilitators who perform a range of tasks in support of the collaborative. We sought to understand differences between facilitation and coordination in terms of trust creation and maintenance. We conducted case studies in four collaborative groups, one with a facilitator and three with coordinators. We highlight the trust-building practices unique to the facilitator and discuss the potential implications for future collaborative groups.

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Wildfire Preparedness – Resources from Cal Fire

Visit Cal Fire wildfire preparedness website.

Many resources are available on preparing and preventing wildfire and living and coping after wildfire.

The wildfire within: Gender, leadership and wildland fire culture

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This article examines findings from a 2016 study on gender and leadership within the British Columbia Wildfire Service (BCWS), Canada. The study utilized action research to facilitate an in-depth conversation among wildland firefighters about gender and leadership, and to explore participant-derived actions steps within the BCWS towards a perceived ideal future(s). The study found widespread occurrences of gender discrimination in the day-to-day practice of leadership, and that gender made a difference for wildland firefighters’ experiences of normative workplace culture. In their practice of leadership, participants described a trade-off between gender diversity and excellence. The article concludes that the practice of leadership within wildland fire must include open dialogue about, and strategic engagement with, gendered cultural norms within the workplace in order to dispel myths and latent beliefs, and support what firefighters in this study defined as ‘excellent leadership’.

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Post-Fire Resources Website

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After a catastrophic wildfire, quick action must be taken to minimize social, environmental, and economic devastation. Responsive action requires navigating a complex maze of diverse landowners, community  organizations, and numerous local and federal requirements.

Given enough time,  forests eventually heal from wildfire. But  that healing process can take decades, or even centuries. They simply  won’t heal quickly without human intervention. Timely rehabilitation efforts reduce environmental impacts of fire, and can have a positive impact on the community’s social and economic situation in the months  and years after the fire. Perhaps most importantly, quick and effective  rehabilitation efforts improve public health and safety.

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Comparing USFS and stakeholder motivations and experiences in western collaboration

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This study involved a statewide survey of participants in Oregon forest collaboratives to examine differences in motivations, perceptions of success, and satisfaction among Forest Service participants (“agency participants”), who made up 31% of the sample, and other respondents (“non-agency”) who represent nonfederal agencies, interest groups, citizens, and non-governmental groups. This study found that agency participants differed from non-agency participants. They typically had higher annual incomes, and were primarily motivated to participate to build trust. However, a majority of all respondents were similar in not indicating any other social or economic motivations as their primary reason for collaborating. A majority also reported satisfaction with their collaborative— despite not ranking collaborative performance on a number of specific potential outcomes highly. Together, this suggests that collaboration in Oregon is currently perceived as successful despite not achieving many specific outcomes.

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