Augusta ranks 9 out of 150 cities with highest home fire risk

Augusta Fire Department
Augusta Fire Department(WRDW)
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 5:46 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2023 at 3:04 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta ranks ninth out of 150 cities with the highest home fire risks, but some grant money might help improve those numbers.

Augusta’s ranking was published a few days ago in The Hartford’s 2023 Home Fire Index.

The index shows many Augustans taking some risks:

  • Close to 70% reported charging a device overnight, which is a common fire safety risk.
  • Nearly 22% said they smoked indoors. Moreover, 4% say they fell asleep while smoking.
  • Only 57% say they have a smoke detector in every bedroom in their home.
  • Only 71% say that they currently have an emergency escape plan.

The Augusta Fire Department is working to turn around some of those numbers with efforts ranging from educational outreach to installing smoke detectors and holding evacuation drills.

A couple of grants might help:

  • On March 22, the Augusta Commission accepted the Assistance to Firefighters Grant totaling $52,800 to buy thermal cameras that help firefighters see areas of heat through smoke and locate victims.
  • The Hartford insurance company is providing $10,000 for fire safety education. It’s the Augusta Fire Department’s third time to get the grant. Over three years, the company is donating $1.5 million to the 150 cities on the fire risk list.

The Augusta Fire Department responds to more than 20,000 calls a year from 19 fire stations and is one of 84 fire departments in the nation to achieve a No. 1 ISO rating. The rating is a fire preparedness score from the Insurance Services Office that’s based mainly on local fire departments and water supply.

“It is our mission to promote a safe, secure, and sustainable environment for our stakeholders with a dedication to service,” Fire Chief Antonio Burden said.

Elsewhere across the state, home fires have already killed 31 Georgians this year, putting the state third in the nation, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Fire safety tips

  • Install and maintain detectors in every bedroom on every level, testing them every month .
  • Replace smoke alarms after 10 years and carbon monoxide alarms every five to seven years.
  • Replace alarm batteries, since the risk of dying in a home fire is 55% lower in homes with working smoke alarms than in homes with no alarms or no working alarms.
  • Avoid smoking indoors.
  • Avoid leaving candles or any other open flames unattended.
  • Have an escape plan and practice it twice a year. According to a study conducted by First Alert, only 43% of Americans report having an escape plan in place, and only 26% reported having ever practiced it.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets.
  • Know how to put out fires, and have a fire extinguisher in your home.
  • Never leave your stove or oven unattended while cooking, and keep flammable objects away from the cooking surface.