With more people than ever living in the vicinity of the wildland-urban interface, communicating wildland fire management activities and building trust with the public is paramount for safety. Although the time and resources it takes to build and maintain the public’s trust may seem daunting, it may be one of the most important factors determining the long-term viability of a fire management program. Trust is built over time through personal relationships with citizens and communities and also by demonstrating competence and establishing credibility. When trust and confidence have been established, managers can enjoy strong support of fire and fuels management programs, even in some of the most challenging communities. Several studies funded by the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) have shed light on what the public knows and thinks about fire and the agencies that manage it, as well as the public’s views on their own fire risk, their responsibilities in reducing it, and their levels of support for fuels reduction programs on public lands. In addition, land managers know more about how to effectively communicate with the public about fire, whether the goal is to build support for fuels treatments and fire management or to motivate property owners to mitigate their fire risk.
Image source: Joint Fire Science Program