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Study reveals homeowner perceptions in fire-prone areas
Date:9/25/2008

Most residents in fire-prone communities surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest have taken steps to protect their homes from wildland fires, according to a U.S. Forest Service study completed this summer.

"The Experience of Community Residents in a Fire-Prone Ecosystem: A Case Study on the San Bernardino National Forest," showed about 94 percent of homeowners who participated in surveys and focus group discussions in 2007 had taken defensible-space steps. About 75 percent reduced the flammable vegetation because it was required. Inadequate financial resources, physical limitations and a desire to leave the landscape unchanged were commonly reported as barriers for undertaking action to protect homes from wildland fires.

"Overall, we found participants were concerned about fires and thought they were knowledgeable about ways to reduce the threat," said Pat Winter, a U.S. Forest Service research social scientist at the Pacific Southwest Research Station.

Winter completed the study with George Cvetkovich, a psychology professor at the Western Washington University Center for Cross-Cultural Research. She and Cvetkovich conducted the research on the San Bernardino National Forest because it is one of the most fire-prone forests in the country.

The study can be found on the Pacific Southwest Research Station website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_rp257/

The scientists examined participants' stress related to living in fire-prone areas, perceived level of responsibility for fire prevention and preferred way to receive fire information. Almost 70 percent had experienced an evacuation because of fires.

Results showed most residents were very concerned about fires and that psychological impacts linger even a few years after the last major fire in an area. Many of these respondents also rated their knowledge of what should be done fo
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Contact: Roland Giller
rgiller@fs.fed.us
510-559-6327
US Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station
Source:Eurekalert

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