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Concept Paper

Increasing Pace and Scale of Prescribed Fire via Catastrophe Funds for Liability Relief

1
Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL 32312, USA
2
School of Law, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
3
Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
4
University of California Cooperative Extension, Eureka, CA 95503, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Fantina Tedim, Vittorio Leone and Carmen Vázquez-Varela
Received: 24 September 2021 / Revised: 16 October 2021 / Accepted: 17 October 2021 / Published: 19 October 2021
Increased prescribed burning is needed to provide a diversity of public benefits, including wildfire hazard reduction, improved forest resilience, and biodiversity conservation. Though rare, escaped burns or significant smoke impacts may result in harm to individuals and property. Liability for potential damages reduces the willingness of fire managers to expand the practice, particularly where the wildland–urban interface creates the greatest risk. Across the United States of America, efforts have been made to reduce prescribed fire-related risks through statutory reform, training and certification requirements, and private insurance. An increasing number of states have adopted the liability standard of gross negligence to protect prescribed fire practitioners. When liability relief is tied to best practices or burn manager certification, risk to the public from potential prescribed fire impacts is reduced. Under this model, however, those harmed by prescribed fire may have little legal recourse for compensation from losses. Here, we explore the pairing of a mechanism to compensate losses while limiting liability for practitioners who use best management practices. Specifically, we assess the suitability of using a catastrophe fund in conjunction with adoption of gross negligence standards, modeled after other natural hazards examples. This model could ensure public support and sustain and expand prescribed fire in many fire-prone landscapes. View Full-Text
Keywords: disaster funds; escaped fire; natural hazards; negligence; prescribed burn; smoke disaster funds; escaped fire; natural hazards; negligence; prescribed burn; smoke
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MDPI and ACS Style

Varner, J.M.; Hiers, J.K.; Wheeler, S.B.; McGuire, J.; Quinn-Davidson, L.; Palmer, W.E.; Fowler, L. Increasing Pace and Scale of Prescribed Fire via Catastrophe Funds for Liability Relief. Fire 2021, 4, 77. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/fire4040077

AMA Style

Varner JM, Hiers JK, Wheeler SB, McGuire J, Quinn-Davidson L, Palmer WE, Fowler L. Increasing Pace and Scale of Prescribed Fire via Catastrophe Funds for Liability Relief. Fire. 2021; 4(4):77. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/fire4040077

Chicago/Turabian Style

Varner, J. M., J. K. Hiers, Slaton B. Wheeler, John McGuire, Lenya Quinn-Davidson, William E. Palmer, and Laurie Fowler. 2021. "Increasing Pace and Scale of Prescribed Fire via Catastrophe Funds for Liability Relief" Fire 4, no. 4: 77. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/fire4040077

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