NIST logo

Publication Citation: Social Disorder, Accidents, and Municipal Wildfires

NIST Authors in Bold

Author(s): Douglas S. Thomas; David T. Butry; Jeffrey P. Prestemon;
Title: Social Disorder, Accidents, and Municipal Wildfires
Published: December 01, 2012
Abstract: Societal safeguards, established by those who have shared perceptions in the importance of safety and taking preventative measures, reduce the incidence of accidents that harm people and damage property. These safeguards prevent or discourage community members from partaking in careless behavior that often leads to accidents. Wildland urban interface communities that recognize the importance of safety and take preventive measures are likely to have a lower rate of accidental wildfire. Research has established a strong link between a positive safety culture and a reduction in accidents. This paper tests whether the lack of societal safeguards results in higher rates of accidental wildfires by modeling unintentional human caused wildfires as a function of constructed ,Broken Window‰ indices. Areas with abandoned buildings and unkempt infrastructure identify areas with social disorder, where individuals are more likely to partake in careless behaviors that result in frequent accidents. The results from this analysis suggest that social collaboration and crime prevention programs as well as wildfire safety programs may be effective tools in preventing accidental wildfire ignitions and damage.
Conference: Third Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference
Proceedings: Proceedings for the Third Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference
Pages: pp. 11 - 27
Location: Seattle, WA
Dates: April 16-19, 2012
Keywords: social disorder; broken windows; accidents; fire; fire safety
Research Areas: Building and Fire Research