Natural hazards and adaptive response choices in a changing climate: Promoting bushfire preparedness and risk reduction decision-making

Rachel Westcott*, Kevin Ronan, Hilary Bambrick, Melanie Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: Bushfires are an escalating natural hazard worldwide. This requires developing and implementing new strategies to narrow the bushfire awareness-preparedness gap and improve human safety in the medium to long terms. Redirecting adverse decision-making to achieve positive outcomes in a fire situation is a social imperative given the high human, economic and environmental cost of a serious fire. This paper explores underlying aetiologies that influence decision-making processes in natural hazard emergencies through the lenses of the emergency responder - animal owner interface and Protection Motivation Theory. Method: Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions, and analysed using theoretically-independent Thematic Analysis (TA). Three themes with direct relevance to decision-making were actively identified: (i) observing the influence of social microclimate; (ii) maladaptive response choices (iii) adaptive response choices. A fourth, dynamic risk assessment, is common to each. These themes generated three main organisational- and socially-mediated pathways for improving bushfire preparedness and human safety. Conclusion: By exploring how decision-making is influenced at the emergency responder-animal owner interface, this study proposes potentially useful strategic concepts for medium-to long-term improvement in public bushfire preparedness and disaster risk reduction. These include (i) understanding the complexities and synergism of various social microclimates, (ii) organisational collaboration and resource sharing, and (iii) creating a rewarding environment favouring safe response choices. The findings suggested in this paper aim to develop a safer environment for all inhabitants in areas at risk of bushfire, and other natural hazards.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100065
JournalSocial Sciences and Humanities Open
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

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