Catching Fire? Social Interactions, Beliefs, and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Behaviors

TitleCatching Fire? Social Interactions, Beliefs, and Wildfire Risk Mitigation Behaviors
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsDickinson, K
Secondary AuthorsBrenkert-Smith, H
Tertiary AuthorsChamp, P
Subsidiary AuthorsFlores, N
JournalSociety & Natural Resources
Start Page807
Keywordsrisk assessment and analysis, social and community impacts of fire, technical reports and journal articles

Social interactions are widely recognized as a potential influence on risk-related behaviors. We present a mediation model in which social interactions (classified as formal/informal and generic/fire-specific) are associated with beliefs about wildfire risk and mitigation options, which in turn shape wildfire mitigation behaviors. We test this model using survey data from fire-prone areas of Colorado. In several cases, our results are consistent with the mediation hypotheses for mitigation actions specifically targeting vegetative fuel reduction. Perceived wildfire probability partially mediates the relationship between several interaction types and vegetative mitigation behaviors, while perceptions of aesthetic barriers and lack of information play a mediating role in the case of fire-specific formal interactions. Our results suggest that social interactions may allow mitigation and prevention behaviors to “catch fire” within a community, and that wildfire education programs could leverage these interactions to enhance programmatic benefits.