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Exploring ‘wait and see’ responses in French and Australian WUI wildfire emergencies

Exploring ‘wait and see’ responses in French and Australian WUI wildfire emergencies

Vaiciulyte, Sandra, Hulse, Lynn M. ORCID: 0000-0001-5582-3520, Galea, Edwin R. ORCID: 0000-0002-0001-6665 and Veeraswamy, Anand (2022) Exploring ‘wait and see’ responses in French and Australian WUI wildfire emergencies. Safety Science, 155:105866. ISSN 0925-7535 (doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2022.105866)

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Abstract

For Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) residents, wildfire is a constant, growing risk. A timely response to wildfire is vital for human survival. Yet, upon receiving fire cues, previous studies show that instead of taking protective action, people often first wait and see how the situation unfolds. The circumstances under which ‘wait and see’ responses manifest have received research attention in Australia and North America. However, it is unclear whether the findings extend to European regions, given the scarcity of such research there. So, this study surveyed and systematically compared the responses of residents in French and Australian at-risk regions (N = 450). Those with recent wildfire experience described their actual responses; those lacking experience provided responses to a hypothetical fire. The results showed regional differences, with participants in France tending to choose to ‘wait and see’ more often than participants in Australia. There was less waiting when participants received environmental as compared to social cues, although the type of environmental/social cue appeared to moderate this behaviour. The cessation of waiting requires further study but early signs are that it may not always be followed by optimal action. Lacking preparedness and wildfire experience affected responses. Peri-event perceived risk also proved meaningful, unlike pre-event perceived risk. These findings have implications for wildfire evacuation modelling (when developing simulation scenarios and evacuation triggers) as well as for wildfire management (when using evacuation models for planning or response, when designing interventions such as the education of residents).

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: evacuation; decision-making; human behaviour; wait and see; wildfire; cross-cultural
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
S Agriculture > SD Forestry
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Centre for Numerical Modelling & Process Analysis (CNMPA)
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Centre for Numerical Modelling & Process Analysis (CNMPA) > Fire Safety Engineering Group (FSEG)
Faculty of Engineering & Science > School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences (CMS)
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2022 08:57
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/36796

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