CASH-strapped local authorities have begun invoicing an equally financially strained HSE for calling the fire brigade to assist ambulance crews.
The HSE has confirmed it is in talks with the Department of the Environment to establish if the ambulance service can request fire service assistance without fear of being sent a massive bill later.
If the fire service does respond to an 'ambulance assist' call, the local authority then sends a bill to the HSE.
The invoices run into thousands of euro. However, to date, according to sources, the HSE has refused to honour the bills.
Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley said: "This is an outrageous situation that two organs of the State would be squabbling over who pays the bill."