Comparing production function models for wildfire risk analysis in the wildland-urban interface
Wildfires create damages in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) that total hundreds of millions of dollars annually in the United States. Understanding how fires are produced in built-up areas near and within fire prone landscapes requires evaluating and quantifling the roles that humans play in fire regimes. We outline a typology of wildfire production functions (WPFs) and empirically estimate three broad classes of WPFs: fire event (ignitions), fire aggregate extent, and a combination function of fire effect and aggregate extent (an intensity-weighted aggregate extent model). Our case study is Florida, which contains an abundance of both wildland and human populations. We find that socio-economic variables play statistically significant roles in all three estimated production functions. At the county level, we find that population and poverty are usually positively related to annildl wildfire area and intensity-weighted fire area, while unemployment is negatively related to ignitions, area, and intensity-weighted wildfire area. Poverty is found to be negatively related to wildfire ignitions, while the number of police are correlated with fewer ignitions. These results suggest that managers and decision makers should be aware of socio-economic variables and consider them in their wildland fire management decisions in the wildland-urban interface. Our results also emphasize the importance of including such variables in statistical models of wildfire risk in the WUI.