Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wildfire prevention pays big dividends in Florida, study finds

Date:
July 21, 2010
Source:
USDA Forest Service/Southern Research Station
Summary:
Wildfire prevention education in Florida pays for itself several times over by saving millions of dollars in fire-fighting costs and reducing damages from human-caused fires, according to new research.

The study shows wildfire prevention education pays for itself several times over by reducing fire-fighting costs and damages from human-caused fires.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Carrie Sekerak

A study by USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists and research partners suggests that wildfire prevention education in Florida pays for itself several times over by saving millions of dollars in fire-fighting costs and reducing damages from human-caused fires. Researchers published their findings in a recent issue of the journal Forest Science.

“This is the first study to document the effectiveness of wildfire prevention education targeted at human-caused fires such as debris-burning escapes, campfire escapes, children playing with fire, and cigarettes,” said Jeff Prestemon, SRS research forester and lead author of the paper. “We found that Florida’s investments pay for themselves multiple times over in terms of suppression spending avoided and fire damages avoided.”

Researchers developed a model to quantify the effects of wildfire prevention education on preventable wildfires in Florida from 2002 to 2007. Scientists analyzed how wildfire prevention efforts reduce the occurrence, area burned and net economic losses associated with preventable wildfires. Researchers defined wildfire prevention education as public education efforts by wildfire managers that focus on the avoidance of accidentally ignited human-caused wildfires. Education could come in the form of public service announcement via media, distribution of brochures, in-person presentations, or home visits.

Researchers analyzed data from actual wildfire prevention efforts and fires between 2002 and 2007. They found that the benefits exceeded costs in Florida’s fire management regions by 10- to 99-fold, depending on assumptions about how wildfire prevention education spending is allocated to these regions. Overall, results show that statewide benefits of wildfire prevention education efforts significantly outweigh their costs, where every dollar of additional spending in wildfire education prevention efforts could reduce wildfire damages and firefighting costs by up to $35. To put this into perspective: a doubling of wildfire prevention efforts in Florida compared to average 2002-2007 levels costing a half million dollars annually would have potentially averted over 800 wildfires and an estimated $11 million in combined wildfire damages and firefighting costs each year.

“We also noted that between 1999 and 2008, Florida more than doubled the number of wildfire mitigation specialists in the state,” said Karen Abt, SRS research economist and co-author of the paper. “This increase in personnel is likely to have already yielded positive net benefits for residents of Florida.”

The study also netted useful information regarding the effectiveness of the various types of wildfire prevention education methods. The research suggests that there might be additional potential economic gains to altering the mix of wildfire prevention education methods. Statistically, media efforts (radio, television, etc.) yield the largest net benefits per unit. Media efforts have the additional advantage that some of their costs are paid for by broadcasters, not the state. The study also suggests that presentations in public venues such as school assemblies and to homeowner associations may be another way to effectively distribute the prevention message to the public and yield larger net benefits than increasing all other education methods equally.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA Forest Service/Southern Research Station. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Prestemon, Jeffrey P.; Butry, David T.; Abt, Karen L.; Sutphen, Ronda. Net Benefits of Wildfire Prevention Education Efforts. Forest Science, 56(2):181-192

Cite This Page:

USDA Forest Service/Southern Research Station. "Wildfire prevention pays big dividends in Florida, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100721112240.htm>.
USDA Forest Service/Southern Research Station. (2010, July 21). Wildfire prevention pays big dividends in Florida, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100721112240.htm
USDA Forest Service/Southern Research Station. "Wildfire prevention pays big dividends in Florida, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100721112240.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins