Factors influencing adoption and rejection of fire hazard severity zone maps in California

Rebecca K. Miller, Christopher B. Field, Katharine J. Mach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Community wildfire preparedness programs are an important means of protecting residents living in hazardous areas like the wildland-urban interface. Different programs rely on various sets of drivers, such as legal enforcement or engaged citizens. Here, sociopolitical motivations and barriers for participation are evaluated in a state-recommended, though not legally required, local program in California (Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones). Through this regional case study, we examine how and why communities do or do not participate in wildfire preparedness programs when given the choice. Drawing on interviews with state and local leadership, the research team identifies motivating factors inducing participation (related to public safety) and factors dissuading participation (related to economic concerns). Following recent catastrophic wildfires, state policy has changed the previously optional Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone program to mandatory, indicating stronger oversight of local decision-making to promote public safety. By understanding the factors driving local participation, higher levels of government can incentivize or require greater engagement throughout hazardous areas to protect lives and properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101686
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Defensible space
  • Fire hazard severity zone
  • Home hardening
  • Wildfire preparedness
  • Wildland-urban interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Safety Research
  • Geology


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