A Provisional Conceptual Model of Human Behavior in Response to Wildland-Urban Interface Fires

  • Lauren H. FolkEmail author
  • Erica D. Kuligowski
  • Steven M. V. Gwynne
  • John A. Gales


With more frequent and destructive wildfires occurring in the growing wildland-urban interface (WUI), the ability to ensure the safe evacuation of potentially large groups of people is of increasing importance. This is a challenging task made only more difficult by the fact that there is often little warning and that evacuations often need to take place in a short period of time. The creation of credible and effective evacuation models is needed within the fire safety engineering community to help address this challenge. Although potentially difficult to represent, a critical component in developing such models is the consideration of what people will do in response to a WUI fire. In this literature review, research relating to WUI fire evacuations was collected to identify the factors that influence protective action decision-making and response during these events, specifically whether someone chooses to evacuate or not. To supplement the findings, related hurricane evacuation literature was also reviewed for such factors. The factors that were identified relate to sociodemographic factors, social and environmental cues, preparation and experience, familial responsibilities, location, and credible threat and risk assessment. These factors were organized according to the Protective Action Decision Model (PADM) to create a conceptual model of protective action decision-making. This is the first step in being able to incorporate such factors and their corresponding impact on public response into comprehensive WUI evacuation models.


Wildland urban interface Wildfires Hurricanes Evacuation Human behavior Conceptual model 



The authors would like to thank Richard Peacock and Nelson Bryner from NIST for review of this article. This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant, the Society of Fire Protection Engineering (SFPE) Foundation Dr. Guylène Proulx OC Scholarship, and the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) graduate scholarship.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Wildland-Urban Interface Fire GroupNational Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA
  3. 3.Movement StrategiesLondonUK

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