Smoke production from fires is a serious land management consideration because it can affect public and firefighter health, impair visibility for road and air traffic, damage property, become a "nuisance," and contribute to air pollution in populated areas that are regulated by EPA air quality standards. However, a very limited amount of research has been conducted specific to public perceptions and tolerance of smoke from wildland fires. Recently the fire management community has called for research to improve the scientific understanding of what factors influence public tolerance of smoke from wildland fires, how people value their personal health and the health of their surrounding ecosystems, especially in circumstances where fire, climate change and increasing populations are interconnecting. This page is dedicated to providing information about current Joint Fire Science Program research specific to public perceptions and tolerance of smoke from wildland fires.
Public Perceptions and Smoke Synthesis For a working document which synthesizes recent research on smoke percpeptions and tolerance see below:
Blades, J., and Hall, T. 2011. Public perceptions and tolerance of smoke from prescribed and wildland fire. Working literature synthesis. Conservation Social Sciences. University of Idaho. Moscow, Idaho. (PDF)
Other Helpful Resources
McCaffrey, S., and Olson, C. In Press. Eight Questions Answered: Social Science and Wildfire. Readers of this work are urged to consult the full reference by the same authors: Research Perspectives on the Public and Fire Management: A Synthesis of Current Social Science on Eight Essential Questions. (PDF)
Steelman, T., and McCaffrey S.2013. Best practices in risk and crisis communication: Implications for natural hazards management. Natural Hazards. 65(1). 683-705. (PDF)
In 2011 the NWCG Smoke Committee (SmoC) hosted a webinar in collaboration with the NWCG Communication, Education, and Prevention Committee, USFS Smoke FARM Team, and NIFC External Affairs. Four presentations and a discussion period examined public perception and messaging about smoke and wildland fire. The webinar was a key initial step in developing needed messaging about wildland fire smoke, and it also served as the Smoke Committee's beginning effort at developing a broad-scale interagency communication plan on the topic.
Presenters included: Sarah McCaffrey, USDA Forest Service; Laura McCarthy, The Nature Conservancy; Troy Hall, University of Idaho; and Christine Olsen, Oregon State University.
Download a summary about the presentations (PDF).
Please note that if you do not have high speed internet, you should download the files and play them from your computer. To download a file, right click on the link and select "Save Target As..." (Internet Explorer), or "Save Link As..." (Firefox), or the equivalent option if you are using another browser.
For more information about this webinar, please contact Josh Hyde.