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    Description

    Recent years have seen growing interest within the United States fire management community in exploring alternatives to the standard approach of evacuating entire populations that are threatened by a wildfire. There has been particular interest in what can be learned from the Australian approach, whereby residents choose whether or not to evacuate under the 'prepare, stay and defend or leave early' approach, also called Stay or Go. Given these developments, it is useful to understand what elements are taken into consideration by those who would be most affected by a new approach when they think through the pros and cons of mass evacuation v. an alternative strategy should a wildfire occur. This paper reports on findings from interviews in four communities in the United States where some alternative to mass evacuation during a wildfire was being considered. In each community, emergency responders and community members were asked for their perspective on the pros and cons of evacuation and the alternative being considered. The results show that opinions were mixed on whether evacuation or an alternative approach was more appropriate. Individuals who were primarily thinking of improving safety and reducing uncertainty for emergency responders tended to think mass evacuation was the best approach, whereas those who were primarily thinking of increasing safety and reducing uncertainty for homeowners were more likely to think that alternative responses were a valid option. These findings demonstrate the complicated nature of developing evacuation strategies that are beneficial to all parties involved.

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    Citation

    McCaffrey, Sarah; Rhodes, Alan; Stidham, Melanie. 2015. Wildfire evacuation and its alternatives: perspectives from four United States' communities. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 24: 170-178.

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