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When disaster strikes: human responses to wildfires and evacuation in the south of France and Australia

When disaster strikes: human responses to wildfires and evacuation in the south of France and Australia

Vaiciulyte, Sandra (2020) When disaster strikes: human responses to wildfires and evacuation in the south of France and Australia. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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The number of wildfires occurring globally is increasing, exacerbated by urbanisation and changes in weather patterns. People’s safety is threatened by this growing problem. Consequently, researchers have conducted studies of wildfires and human behaviour in response to wildfire evacuations in regions such as Australia and the USA. Regions in Europe have received less attention, despite facing the same issues. In addition, due to the different methods and focuses applied in existing disaster research, it proves challenging to compare and utilise results of multiple studies when developing tools for community safety (e.g. evacuation simulation models, for use in planning and training).

This research addresses these gaps by:

• devising a framework for data collection and organisation (CIBER-t)
• applying mixed methods and a research focus shaped by this framework
• collecting data from various sources (media, professionals involved in wildfire management, residents) in wildland-urban interface/intermix (WUI) areas in the European region of southern France
• identifying, quantifying and contextualising aspects of individual and group behavioural responses to wildfires in these WUI areas
• comparing the French data with new data from Australia, thereby building an understanding of behaviours that may be generalised or regionally-specific
• using the combined data to create regression models that predict behavioural outcomes such as the decision to evacuate and evacuation delay times
• considering the potential for regression and evacuation models to assist researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, and the public in improving community safety

Through qualitative and quantitative analysis, a representation has emerged of how people respond across different stages of a wildfire, external and internal factors influencing such behaviour, and vulnerabilities. The results also reveal that some but not all human behaviours can be generalised across regions. Therefore, this research expands the knowledge-base upon which to develop wildfire safety tools and measures, but highlights the need for further regional data and context.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Contributed to H2020-EU.1.3.3. - Stimulating innovation by means of cross-fertilisation of knowledge, part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 691161.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Wildfire management, fire safety, CIBER-t
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences (CMS)
Faculty of Engineering & Science
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2022 13:06

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