Thursday 19 October 2017

Fire brigade fees range from €750 to zero – based on where you live

Our interactive map shows the charges in your area

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

HOMEOWNERS in parts of the country are paying €750 for calling the fire brigade in emergencies while those in neighbouring counties pay nothing for the same service.

An Irish Independent survey of the country’s 30 fire authorities has found wildly varying fees and payment structures in place.

The survey found that:

* Mayo Fire Brigade charges €750, the highest flat-rate fee for house fires.

* Dublin, Kildare and Roscommon all charge at least €500.

* Charges elsewhere range from €125 in Longford to €460 in Galway city and county.

Different payment structures in different counties add to the chaotic system, with examples including Kilkenny charging €70 per hour, per firefighter, and Louth charging €7.50 a minute at emergencies.

Other counties like Clare don’t list flat-rate costs, instead calculating the total cost of attending the incident including “firefighters' wages, employer PRSI and 60pc overhead”.

Meanwhile, call-outs to house fires in counties Cork, Waterford, Sligo, Monaghan and Kerry were free of charge.

There are varying fees for attendance at chimney fires, ranging from €100 in Kerry to €500 in Dublin.

Residents with chimney fires in South Tipperary pay €150 while their counterparts in North Tipperary pay €366.

Attendance by the fire brigade at road traffic accidents is free in Cork but costs €220 in Limerick city and €610 in Dublin.

Owners of commercial premises will pay from between €480 in the Cork County Council area to €1,100 in Limerick City.

Call-out charges are waived in incidents involving fatalities while social welfare recipients and pensioners are also exempt.

Many local authorities encourage homeowners to ensure that the costs of fire charges are included in home insurance policies.

Various insurers cover the charges – Zurich home insurance automatically covers fees up to €1,500, Liberty Insurance up to €2,000 and FBD up to a maximum of €2,000.

Call-out charges were first introduced in the four local authority areas in Dublin last year. But figures for the first four months of charging fees show that Dublin City Council was recouping just 12.5pc, or €12,350, from bills totalling €101,860.

Last month, it was reported that Sligo County Council had hired the Stubbs Gazette Credit Bureau to recover more than €700,000 in unpaid fees from incidents at commercial premises.

The chairman of the Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA), John Kidd, said that his organisation was “against charges”.

He said he had heard of cases where “you have people now fighting car fires with extinguishers because calling the fire service will put a €500 claim on their insurance policy”.

He said IFESA was calling for a single national fire and ambulance service.

He favours the implementation of the system in place in some Australian states where a levy on the insurance industry funds the fire brigade.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Phil Hogan said there were “no plans to introduce a national system of charges”. According to the spokesman, the minister recently announced that Keeping Communities Safe plans would see “a reduction in the number of fire service delivery units from 30 to 21”.

He said this would “achieve necessary efficiencies, while maintaining the fire service within local government, rather than migrate towards a national fire service”.

 

Click on the interactive map below for a detailed guide to the charges in your area

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