Augusta taxpayers lose $100,000 to false fire alarms

By: Kate Tillotson
By: Kate Tillotson

It's an alarming number.

Augusta's firefighters have responded to 1000 false fire alarms this year alone.

And the phony fires are costing you.

Gas prices, gear, and manpower. To pay for these false alarms, Augusta's fire department is having to dip into its tax revenue budget--a budget made up entirely of your tax dollars.

In the heat of the moment, there's no asking questions...but if there was, one might be: Is there really a fire?

"This year alone we're close to a thousand false alarms," says Fire Chief Howard Willis.

False fire alarms are a waste of city and county resources.

In 2005, Augusta's fire department responded to nearly 2000 of them.

With the costs of fuel, maintenance and manpower, taxpayers hosed out over $100,000.

The fire department could have found a better way to use that $100,000. The money could have easily paid the salaries of four new firefighters.

"Not only the fact that it's costly, it puts our firefighters in harm's way and it puts the public in harm's way," Chief Willis says.

Tony Miller manages Craven's Auto Salvage on Mike Padgett Highway. He knows first-hand the nuisances of alarms.

"Basically during a storm, the doors will shake, and if our alarm system ever breaks contact at one time, we've got sixty seconds to reset the alarm before the alarm company actually does call the sheriff's department," he says.

To help extinguish the number of future false alarms, officials are discussing fines to hold the alarm owner responsible.

Meanwhile, firefighters continue gearing up for every call, whether it be true or false.

Believe it or not, thunderstorms have caused several false alarms. When power lines go down, that impacts hard wires. That was the case about two weeks ago.

Chief Willis recommends reading your instructions to better know how to activate and de-activate your alarm.


Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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