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Project ID: 12-2-01-47

Year: 2012

Date Started: 08/01/2012

Date Completed: 10/24/2016

Title: Relational Risk Assessment and Management: Investigating Local Capacity in Wildfire Response Networks

Project Proposal Abstract: Failures in effective communication and coordination within the network of responding organizations and agencies during a wildfire can lead to problematic or dangerous outcomes. Although risk assessment and management concepts are usually understood with regards to biophysical attributes in the wildfire context, these concepts can be extended to understanding risk for problematic communication and coordination embedded within social and organizational relationships. In this research, we propose leveraging existing network and social coordination theory to investigate how pre-fire relationships and capacities affect both preparedness before a wildfire and inter-agency communication and coordination during a wildfire. This research will not only advance the science of incident management but also provide the empirical foundation for the development of a new set of concepts and rapid assessment tools that we call: Relational Risk Assessment and Management (RRAM). While existing social theory and research from other disaster contexts offers a starting point in the development of RRAM, there is much left to understand about the factors that facilitate effective inter-agency coordination during wildfires. For RRAM to be empirically-based, theoretically-sound, and contextually-grounded in the realities of fire management, applied social science is needed. We propose to utilize a quasi-experimental mixed-methods research design and advanced statistical and social network analysis techniques to address the following questions: 1)How do key characteristics of responder networks contribute to greater preparedness and more effective fire response? 2)How do these network characteristics interact with incident complexity to heighten or minimize relational risk? 3)What are best practices of relational risk management for IMTs given different risk profiles?

Principal Investigator: Branda L. Nowell

Agency/Organization: North Carolina State University-Raleigh

Branch or Dept: School of Public & International Affairs

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Stefanie D. Saunders

North Carolina State University-Raleigh

Research Administration

Budget Contact

Julie Brasfield

North Carolina State University-Raleigh

Department of Forestry & Environmental Resources

Co-Principal Investigator

Sarah M. McCaffrey

Forest Service

NRS-Northern Research Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Toddi A. Steelman

North Carolina State University-Raleigh

Department of Forestry & Environmental Resources

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network




Great Basin

Great Plains

Lake States

Oak Woodlands

Northern Rockies




Southern Rockies



North Atlantic







Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
    3617 Journal Article Public Administration Review
    3618 Journal Article Disasters
    3619 Journal Article Wildfire Magazine
  go to website 7689 Website When help arrives: Is your community ready?

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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