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Firechasers in the News!

Toddi Steelman and Sarah McCaffrey Present at International Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference

What Kinds of Information Do People Want, Trust and Use Before and During a Wildfire?
The communication system through which information flows during a
disaster can be conceived of as a set of relationships among sources
and recipients who are concerned about key information
characteristics.  The recipient perspective is often neglected within
this system.  In this article, we explored recipient perspectives
related to what information was used, useful, and trustworthy.  Using
a survey (n=873) on five large wildfires in 2009 and 2010, we found
significant gaps between the sources that were most used and most
useful or the most trustworthy.  The sources that were used before the
fires were also the sources that were most used during the fire.  This
led us to coin the term Familiarity Principle to express that people
go to the sources they know best, even if they are not the most useful
or trustworthy.

Communication under Fire: Key Factors Related to Performance Effectiveness in Large Wildfires
Failures in effective communication and coordination within the
network of responding organizations and agencies during a wildfire can
lead to problematic and sometimes dangerous outcomes. For this reason,a key area of concern in the study of large wildfires includes the
interactions that take place among responding organizations and
agencies and their effect on the collective response. However, while
we now have several case studies that have documented the structure of
disaster response networks, we have limited empirical knowledge of the
factors that shape the structure of the communication network and
explain variation in the efficacy of interactions within it. These
interactions are viewed as the primary vehicle through which
responders develop situational awareness to changing events on the
ground and coordinate their actions with other units accordingly.
Without rigorous investigations into what forces shape these
interactions, our models of wildfire response are incomplete. This
study investigates the influence of pre-disaster relationships, role
similarity and common stakeholder affiliation on communication
frequency and efficacy during large-scale wildfire events occurring in
the wildland urban interface.