Fire Fee FAQ 

What is a fire fee? discountguide
A fire fee is a charge for fire services provided by Savannah Fire Department. Under the fire fee, the revenue collected can only be used for fire services to customers. A fire fee is a financing option that provides an equitable, stable and dedicated revenue source to support fire services. In Georgia, fire fees are similar to water, sewer, or sanitation fees, in that these services are typically funded through user fees.

What does the Savannah Fire Department do for me?

  • Protects the lives and property of the citizens of Savannah by providing the highest level of fire protection, prevention and response services through professionalism and dedication.
  • Maintains an ISO Class 1 rating; one of only 55 accredited fire departments in the U.S. with this rating. (There is a distinction between ISO Class I rated departments, of which there are more than 200, and accredited ISO Class I rated departments, of which there are 55.)
  • Responds to more than 8,000 calls for service a year which include fires, vehicle extrications, hazardous material incidents, water rescues and much more.
  • Currently comprised of 341 professional, fully-trained, career firefighters.
  • Operates 15 fire stations, associated equipment and vehicles that are strategically located all over the City of Savannah to ensure a quick response to its citizens.
  • Provides Fire safety education, performs fire investigations/inspections and provides community services including blood pressure checks and residential smoke detector installations.

Why did the City decide to charge a fire fee to fund fire services?
Charging a user fee for fire services (as opposed to increasing property taxes) is a more equitable way to fund Savannah Fire Rescue since it spreads the cost to all properties that benefit from the service, including tax exempt properties. Customers would pay according to the cost burden their property puts on Savannah Fire Rescue, not according to their property value.

What are the benefits of paying for fire services through user fees versus a property tax increase?
Benefits of paying for fire services through user fees versus a property tax increase include:

  • Fire services would be operated as a special revenue fund, similar to water, sewer and sanitation. That means all fire fee revenue collected will be spent on fire services only.
  • Fire services would no longer be vulnerable to a downturn in the economy that reduces property tax revenue. This, in turn, supports long-term financial planning for Savannah Fire Rescue.
  • Sharing fire fees increases equity and fairness since all properties that receive benefits from the availability of fire services pay the service fee. The general operating fund will pay the service fee for protection of the City's public buildings as well.

Fire fee Map

I have never had a fire at my home or place of business, how do I benefit from Savannah Fire Rescue services? 
The Savannah firefighters continually stand ready to serve. The Department maintains preparedness 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide fire protection services to all properties within the City of Savannah. Even if a property does not generate a call for fire services, that property and its occupants still receive the following benefits because of the availability of fire services.

  • Reduced risk to life and property due to fire
  • Increased value and marketability of the property
  • Reduced insurance premiums

What other local governments fund fire services through fire services fees?
Fire fees are currently charged by multiple local governments in Georgia. They are also commonly charged in Florida and Alabama. Neighboring communities that charge fire fees include Bloomingdale, Garden City, Port Wentworth, unincorporated Chatham County (Chatham Fire Department or Southside Fire Department), Bryan County, Screven County, and many more throughout Georgia and the US.

What does Savannah Fire Rescue do for me?

  • Protects the lives and property of the citizens of Savannah by providing the highest level of fire protection, prevention and response services through professionalism and dedication.
  • Maintains an ISO Class 1 rating; one of only 55 accredited fire departments in the U.S. with this rating. (There is a distinction between ISO Class I rated departments, of which there are more than 200, and accredited  ISO Class I rated departments, of which there are 55.)
  • Responds to more than 8,000 calls for service a year which include fires, vehicle extrication, hazardous material incidents, water rescues and much more.
  • Currently comprised of 341 professional, fully-trained, career firefighters.
  • Operates 15 fire stations, associated equipment and vehicles that are strategically located all over the City of Savannah to ensure a quick response to its citizens.
  • Provides Fire safety education, performs fire investigations/inspections and provides community services including blood pressure checks and residential smoke detector installations.

How is my fire fee calculated? 

If you own a single-family home in Savannah, your fire services fee prior to discounts has been set by City Council at $256 for 2018. This $256 fee is referred to as one billing unit.

For other properties that aren’t single-family homes, such as commercial properties, the fire fee is a calculation based on the size of the building space times a risk factor that is assigned by Savannah Fire Rescue. Every 1,700 square feet of building space is considered one billing unit, and each billing unit is assessed a fee of $256.

Thus, your fire fee is calculated as follows: Billable Area/1,700 square feet x Risk Factor x Rate ($256).
For example, if your commercial property is 17,000 square feet with a risk factor of 1.0, your fire fee (prior to discounts) would be calculated as follows: 17,000 sf/1,700 sf x 1.0 x $256 = $2,560.

The number of billing units for non-single-family-residential property is capped at 49 equivalent residential units, or 83,300 square feet. The risk factor is then applied to the 49 ERUs to determine the fee.

All property has been assigned to a risk category by Savannah Fire Rescue based on property, building, occupancy and use characteristics that would affect the probability of a fire occurring and the potential consequences if a fire did occur. The table below illustrates the four risk factors that can be applied:

The table below illustrates the four risk factors that can be applied based on the risk assigned to the property by the Savannah Fire Rescue.

Risk LevelFactor
Special1.5
High1.2
Moderate1.0
Low0.2

How much will customers be charged per billing unit? 
The fire services fee rate is an annually adopted rate, which is dependent on the Savannah Fire Rescue budget. The determined for the FY 2018 budget is $256.00 per ERU.    

I am a renter, how does this fee impact me?
This fee will be charged to the owners of the property on their City property tax bill. Renters will not be charged a fire fee by the City of Savannah.

Is there any way to reduce my fire fee?
Yes, both residential and non-residential customers may be eligible for discounts on the fire fee charge by following the procedures or participation in the following programs outlined in the City's Fire Discount Policy Manual. The manual is available at the following link: www.savannahga.gov/firefee. The discounts are based on specific activities that the customer undertakes with regard to their property to reduce their fire risk. Through operation of the discount program, the Savannah Fire rescue hopes to encourage behaviors that support their ongoing Community Fire Risk Reduction initiatives and reducing risk to life and property for residents in Savannah.

You may also qualify for hardship assistance through a program that is still under development by the City of Savannah. Please continue to check for more information on this program at the following site www.savannahga.gov/firefee.

What will be the billing frequency and the billing mechanism?
The fire fee charge will be billed annually on the customer’s City ad valorem property tax bill, beginning in September 2018. If you do not currently receive a property tax bill from the City, you will receive a fire services bill beginning in September 2018.

How can I find out more information about my property?
The City of Savannah has established a phone number dedicating to addressing fire fee related inquiries.  The phone number is (912) 525-2810.  Customer service staff are prepared to answer questions about the fire fee and have a tool that can be used to look up fee estimates for properties throughout the City.  Additional information about the fire fee can be found on the City’s website at www.savannahga.gov/firefee.

What happens if I buy my house in the middle of the year; who is responsible for paying the fire fee? The fire fee is billed prospectively in September for the following year; January to December. Therefore, the owner of the property on the first day of January after the fire fee has been charged, is responsible for paying the fee for that upcoming calendar year.

Can I pay my fire fee in installments? 
The fire fee can be paid in two installments in accordance with the two City property tax billings delivered each year. The first installment can be paid in association with the March City property tax billing, which will be applied to the account.  The remainder of the fire fee owed can then be paid with in association with the September Property Tax billing.