Ex-Urban Sprawl and Fire Response in the United States
35 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2016
Date Written: March 2012
Much has been written in the post-World War II era in the United States about the rise of suburbia and development beyond older city boundaries, whether such development has been called urban, suburban, or ex-urban sprawl. Many writers have focused on various issues concerning sprawl, especially on the unintended consequences that new development has had on (among other issues) municipal finances, neighborhood income and residential segregation, and transportation planning, this last one being important since post-World War II development has mostly centered around the automobile in the US. Over the last decade or so, a new area in the literature on sprawl has focused on how the “built-environment” of residential areas can impact health. For example, authors have chronicled how sprawled regions have higher auto vehicle accidents per capita, greater obesity rates, greater carbon emissions (due to greater travel by automobile), and delays in emergency medical service responses. This research note adds to these latest set of papers on sprawl by trying to empirically estimate the impacts of sprawl in metropolitan regions on fire incidents per capita, firefighter response times, property losses due to fire, and deaths due to fire. In this exploratory analysis the results indicate that urban sprawl is an important factor in influencing firefighting issues and outcomes in the US and can be considered in many cases a factor in delayed response to fires, which in turn can lead to additional deaths and property loss.
Keywords: urban sprawl, fire safety, fire response, property losses, loss of life, wildfires
JEL Classification: R14, R28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation