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Wildfire Research Team

About WiRē 

The Wildfire Research (WiRē) Team is a partnership between wildfire practitioners and researchers. The team focuses on innovation and new approaches to integrating local social science into wildfire education and mitigation programs. The WiRē team brings together diverse expertise in economics, sociology, and wildfire risk mitigation. 

The WiRē Approach

The core of the WiRē approach includes two central data collection efforts:

  1. A parcel-level WiRē Rapid Wildfire Risk Assessment (WiRē RA) is conducted based on attributes related to building materials, vegetation near the home, background fuels, topography, and fire department access to the parcel. The WiRē RA is an indicator of the relative risk of wildfire on a private land parcel within a community rather than an absolute measure of risk.
  2. Social surveys of the residents of the assessed parcels are conducted to investigate homeowners’ notions of wildfire risk, risk mitigation behaviors, and barriers and incentives to mitigate wildfire risk on private land parcels.

The WiRē approach aims to empower the voice of wildfire practitioner partners with comprehensive data and analyses that reflect the entire community, not just the vocal few. Wildfire practitioner partners participate in the data collection process and share the results with their communities. Experience has demonstrated that sharing the results from the systematic data collection with the community provides a common platform for constructive discussion about adapting to wildfire. At a broader scale, the WiRē Team collaborates wtih the WiRē Center, a nonprofit organization that works directly with wildfire practitioners to seek locally-tailored pathways to create fire adapted communities and advance understanding of effective pathways to community wildfire adaptation. The WiRē Center specifically manages, compiles, and analyzes data collected across communities to provide insights across space and time with respect to wildfire risk on private land and the characteristics, knowledge, and experience of the people who live on those parcels. These data are an important contribution to the state of knowledge regarding private land and wildfire risk.

How Does WiRē Work?

The WiRē Team produced a series of three illustrated videos to help users understand their work.

1. An Innovative Approach to Understanding Communities introduces the Wildfire Research (WiRē) Team and explains how they are helping communities adapt to wildfire.

2. Applying the WiRē Approach delves into the details of the WiRē Team and how they work.

3. Becoming more fire adapted through better understanding of the community describes how a better understanding of a community can be used to develop more effective wildfire programs.



“As our community looked for resources to help us create a leading-edge Community Wildfire Protection Plan and to work together to create a more fire resilient future, our USFS District Ranger (Jim Pitts) recommended we connect with the WiRē Team. 

As an innovative rural county, passing one of the first local ballot measures in the US supporting forest health (in 2018), we were excited about connecting WiRē’s deep knowledge in the human aspects of community fire resilience to our developing programs… The team is working with our local Colorado State Forest Service team to design and implement a leading community engagement program that will engage people to help make one of our most at-risk sub-communities more fire resilient. 

The WiRe team brings invaluable resources to our rural community, helping us to create a more fire resilient future together. We have benefited greatly from their knowledge, skills and resources - today in into the future.”

Cindy Williams, Envision Chaffee County Co-Lead


“The Colorado State Forest, Salida Field Office chose to engage with the WiRē team because we wanted a better understanding of how community members of Chaffee County perceived their wildfire risk…The WiRē process aligned well with our wildfire risk assessment program, and it adds another tool to help us educate private landowners. Working with the WiRē team has been a great experience, thus far… The Colorado State Forest Service hopes to work with the WiRē team in the years to come not just in Chaffee County but other parts of the State as well.”

JT Shaver, Forester Colorado State Forest Service, Salida Field Office

National Strategic Program Areas: 
Wildland Fire and Fuels
National Priority Research Areas: 
Localized Needs; Localized Needs (regional work)
RMRS Science Program Areas: 
Human Dimensions
RMRS Strategic Priorities: 
Human-Landscape Interactions
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