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Preparing ... for what? Developing multi-dimensional measures of community wildfire preparedness for researchers, practitioners and households

Patrick D. Dunlop A D F , Ilona M. McNeill A D E , Jessica L. Boylan A D , David L. Morrison B D and Timothy C. Skinner C D

A School of Psychology, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.
B Chancellery, Murdoch University, 90 South Street, Murdoch, Perth, WA 6150, Australia.
C School of Psychological and Clinical Sciences, Charles Darwin University, Ellengowan Drive, Casuarina, NT 0810, Australia.
D Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, Level 5, 340 Albert Street, East Melbourne, Vic. 3002, Australia.
E Present address: Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne, 1-100 Grattan Street, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.
F Corresponding author. Email: patrick.dunlop@uwa.edu.au

International Journal of Wildland Fire - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF13141
Submitted: 29 August 2013  Accepted: 22 April 14   Published online: 21 July 2014


 
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Abstract

In an effort to reduce wildfire risk to community members, researchers and practitioners have sought to identify the factors that are most effective in motivating community members to engage in preparatory behaviours. Quantitative research in this area has been hampered, however, by a lack of consistency in, and validation of household wildfire preparedness assessments. Consequences have included a difficulty in comparing results across quantitative studies, a poor collective understanding of how existing preparedness assessments were developed and an inability to ascertain how specific preparedness actions are tied to householders’ responses to wildfire. We propose to resolve these issues by (1) presenting a definition of wildfire preparedness for adoption as the standard in quantitative studies, (2) developing a typology of wildfire preparedness that distinguishes between household wildfire goals (i.e. safe evacuation, effective active defence and improving the fire resistance of a property in the absence of an active defender), (3) constructing two new standardised measures of preparedness and (4) undertaking a community survey to investigate the validity of the measures. The development of the new measures will facilitate the standardisation of future research into wildfire preparedness, while differentiating between types of preparedness, and is expected to yield practical benefits.

Additional keywords: bushfire, CHWPA, HWiPR, measure development, measurement, standardised.


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