Identifying community fire risk using geographic mapping

Posted: Dec. 14, 2017

Research has shown that geographic mapping software is a valuable tool that fire departments can use to identify community areas at a high risk for fires. Geographic information systems (GIS) offer community safety advocates the ability to identify where healthcare and other vital services are urgently needed. The GIS software can combine multiple sets of geographical, sociodemographic and environmental data to create a model of the environment where people live.

photo of a suburban neighborhood

A recently published study by the University of Louisville demonstrates yet again the value of using GIS software to map and model areas of high fire risk.1

The study looked at whether a sample of older adults selected for a previous home fire safety intervention were actually living in neighborhoods with the highest fire risk. It also aimed to identify other high-risk neighborhoods for future potential interventions. GIS software identified the census tracts where the older adults from the home fire safety intervention lived. The older adults’ data was then compared with census tract data across seven risk factors: age greater than 65, nonwhite race, below high school education, low socioeconomic status, rented housing, year home built, and home value.

How did the demographic data for the home fire safety intervention’s older adults compare with the census data for the tracts where the participants lived? Did the earlier home fire safety intervention successfully target those at highest risk?

Research takeaways

1 Fahey, E., Lehna, C., Hanchette, C., & Coty, M. (2016). Geographic Mapping as a Tool for Identifying Communities at High Risk for Fires. Journal of Burn Care & Research, 37(4). doi:10.1097/bcr.0000000000000303

Learn more about this research

The research article is available through our library by contacting FEMA-NETCLibrary@fema.dhs.gov. Interested readers may be able to access the article through their local library or through the publisher’s website.

See also:

Lehna, C., Speller, A., Hanchette, C., Fahey, E., & Coty, M. (2016). Development of a Fire Risk Model to Identify Areas of Increased Potential for Fire Occurrences. Journal of Burn Care & Research, 37(1), 12-19. doi:10.1097/bcr.0000000000000297

This summary is for informational purposes only. More +
As such, the content does not reflect any official positions, policies, or guidelines on behalf of the sender, the U.S. Fire Administration, FEMA, DHS, nor any other federal agencies, departments or contracting entities. Similarly, this summary does not represent in any manner an official endorsement or relationship to any private or public companies, organizations/associations, or any authors or individuals cited or websites associated within the article.

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