Ex-Urban Sprawl and Fire Response in the United States
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 is important since post-World War II development has mostly centered around the automobile in the United States. Over the last decade, a new area in the literature of 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, worse carbon emissions (due to greater travel by automobile), and delays in emergency medical service responses. This article adds to the latest set of papers on sprawl by empirically estimating the impact of sprawl in metropolitan regions on fire incidents per capita, firefighter response times, as well as property losses, and deaths due to fire. The results of our exploratory analysis indicate that urban sprawl is an important factor in influencing firefighting issues and outcomes in the United States. Moreover, urban sprawl frequently becomes a factor in delayed response to fires which, in turn, could lead to additional deaths and property loss.
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