A GIS-based Preliminary Fire Fatality Risk Assessment for Richland County, South Carolina

Authors: Tracy Whelen*, University of South Carolina
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: GIS, risk assessment, modeling, emergency management, fire
Session Type: Guided Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 3.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download



Fire fatality risk assessments can guide fire departments in fire prevention activities, such as outreach to vulnerable populations and improvements in station location and staffing. Risk can be correlated with a wide variety of behavioral, demographic, socio-economic, structural, fire service access, and occupancy components. This preliminary risk assessment used GIS-based modeling to calculate fire fatality risk at the U.S. Census block group level for Richland County, South Carolina. Due to data availability limitations, this risk assessment is based on nine demographic and socioeconomic variables (age, race, gender, under education, poverty level, overcrowded housing, vacant housing, home ownership, and parental presence) combined with an apparatus proximity measurement that accounts for distance to the nearest fire engine and ladder truck. Distance is used as an industry standard proxy for response time. This risk assessment is then compared with recent records of Columbia Fire Department fire incidents to assess the accuracy of the risk ratings, fine tune the weighting and choice of risk factors (physical and occupancy-based), and develop a more accurate risk assessment in the future. Previous research strongly indicates that socioeconomic factors influence fire fatality risk, but the appropriate proxies for the socioeconomic factors and levels of influence can vary by location.

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