The role of trust in residents' fire wise actions

  • Absher J
  • Vaske J
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Residents’ trust in the managing agency has been heralded as a necessary precursor to success in preventing wildland fire losses in the wildland–urban interface. Trust, however, is a complex concept. Homeowners’ specific fire wise actionsmaynot be easily linked to general measures of trust. This article uses two distinct trust indices to predict residents’ intention to do fire wise actions to their house and adjacent site. Results of structural equation models using a survey of Colorado Front Range residents (n¼456) revealed strong explanatory power: 85% (house behaviours) and 72% (site behaviours) of the variation in intentions were accounted for by trust, previous fire wise behaviours and the perceived effectiveness of the actions. The trust measures, however, were not major influences. ‘Trust in agency competence’ weakly predicted perceived effectiveness for site behaviours; ‘trust in agency information’ weakly predicted past house behaviours. Neither trust variable directly affected intentions to perform these actions. We conclude that trust is best viewed as a broad precursor whose influence on behavioural intentions is mediated by other constructs (e.g. past behaviour, perceived effectiveness). The implications for further work to understand the role of trust and the possible social mechanisms involved are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • fire wise behaviours
  • social trust
  • wildland fire
  • wildland-urban interface

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  • James D. Absher

  • Jerry J. Vaske

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