Public Perceptions and Tolerance of Smoke

Some recent works have been published that seek to develop a deeper understanding of the public’s perception and tolerance of wildland fire and smoke issues. To explore these works in depth, visit the Public Perceptions and Tolerance of Smoke from Wildland Fires Page. While work is ongoing, some recurring observations include:

  • People generally recognize the role of fire
  • The public generally supports fuels reduction
  • To many people surveyed, smoke was considered a nuisance. However, for a minority of people, it poses a serious health concern.
  • People derive their information from a variety of sources, but those sources in which communication allows for exchange between both parties, is more trusted.

Steelman and McCaffrey suggests that interactive communication with credible sources (two way communication between the public and personnel) is highly effective, especially communication in which efforts are put forth to address local concerns, explain actions, and provide information that is timely, accurate, honest, and reliable. Leveraging local relationships can also help facilitate communication.

McCaffrey, S., and Olsen, C. 2012. Research Perspectives on the Public and Fire Management: A Synthesis of Current Social Science on Eight Essential Questions. Joint Fire Science Program Final Report.

Stacey Sargent Frederick, Dr. Christine Olsen, and Dr. Eric Toman. 2013. Traversing Through the Haze, Exploring the Human Perspective of Smoke From Fire. Northwest Fire Science Consortium Research Brief 1. Spring 2013.

Steelman, T., and McCaffrey, S. 2013. Best practices in risk and crisis communication: Implications for natural hazards management. Natural Hazards, 65(1) pgs 683-705.