Net Benefits of Wildfire Prevention Education Efforts

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Wildfire prevention education efforts involve a variety of methods, including airing public service announcements, distributing brochures, and making presentations, which are intended to reduce the occurrence of certain kinds of wildfires. A Poisson model of preventable Florida wildfires from 2002 to 2007 by fire management region was developed. Controlling for potential simultaneity biases, this model indicated that wildfire prevention education efforts have statistically significant and negative effects on the numbers of wildfires ignited by debris burning, campfire escapes, smoking, and children. Evaluating the expected reductions in wildfire damages given a change in wildfire prevention education efforts from current levels showed that marginal benefits exceed marginal costs statewide by an average of 35-fold. The benefits exceeded costs in the fire management regions by 10- to 99-fold, depending on assumptions about how wildfire prevention education spending is allocated to these regions.

Keywords: benefit/cost ratio; campfire; control function; damage; debris; escape

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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