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7.5.04

So Up My Dissertation Alley It Hurts, Part II

Residents Remain Cool To Wildfire Protection

... Fire Chief Manuel Navarro, was a battalion chief in Oakland, Calif., in 1991 when a wildfire exploded, killing 26 people and destroying 3,300 homes. Residents blamed the department for not telling them about the risk.

Navarro swore after that experience he would always warn people in areas prone to wildfires and tell them how to protect themselves and their homes.

... Complacency among residents who won't trim back the forest around their homes and a disregard for safety issues bother fire officials.

Last year, when Colorado Springs banned new cedar shingle roofs, homeowners ignored the warnings and rushed to install wood shingles just before the deadline.

... [Homeowner Howard Gill is] frustrated some neighbors refuse to do anything. He thinks their inaction increases his danger. "But I can't do anything about it," he said.

... [Homeowner Lee Wolford said] "There's always a concern for fire. But you live with the risk. We have a wood deck that we’re getting rid of. We're putting on a fire-retardant deck. We want to minimize the risk, but we don’t want to destroy the atmosphere. I'm not going to cut down every tree within 50 feet of my home. That's asking a lot."


This story hits a lot of important themes -- fire department frustration over homeowner noncompliance, homeowners valuing aesthetic amenities and private property over fire safety, trans-boundary and collective risk colliding with a fragmented property regime, and fatalism or "it can't happen here" attitudes.

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