Resource Allocation under Fire

Jude Bayham and Jonathan K. Yoder

Abstract

Rising suppression cost and severity of wildfires in the United States have prompted debate over federal wildfire management policy. We estimate an econometric model of suppression resource allocation using a dynamic panel dataset on over 500 wildfires in the western United States. We find that more hand crews and engines are dispatched to fires that threaten homes, while more aircraft are dispatched to fires that start near higher-value homes. We combine our results with projected housing growth estimates in California to show that suppression expenditures may rise by nearly $24 million per year. (JEL Q23, Q28)

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