HOMEOWNERS are being charged an average of €414 an hour for fire brigades to put out house blazes.
The local authority charges, rolled out extensively over the past two years, vary considerably -- ranging from €750 down to €100.
Only a handful of local authorities are still not charging to put out fires at private properties, according to an Automobile Association (AA) survey.
Among the most expensive charges per hour for house fire attendance, excluding chimney fires, are Mayo (€750 an hour), Westmeath (€675), Roscommon (€500), the four Dublin local authorities (€500 for the first hour, and a further €450 for every hour after that), and Kildare (€500 if less than two hours). Westmeath and the Dublin councils charge householders €500 for chimney fires which attract a separate fee from other blazes. By contrast, Kerry and Donegal county councils charge €100 for all house fires.
Monaghan is the only council surveyed that does not charge for chimney and other fires in the home.
Sligo and Cork do not not charge for chimney or other domestic fires at owner-occupied homes, but impose a fee of €500 and €450 respectively an hour at rented properties.
Home insurance policies cover these fire brigade call-out fees. According to the AA, over recent years many local authorities have introduced call-out fees for domestic fires for the first time. Authorities that do not charge fees are now in the minority, it says.
The survey calculates the average national fee is €276 an hour for chimney fires and €414 for all other types of domestic blazes. While some local authorities charge based on actual costs incurred, the AA reveals that the highest fixed charges are enforced by Athlone, Westmeath, Louth, Mayo and Roscommon councils.
AA spokesman Conor Faughnan said: "A lot of home owners do not realise that they will have to pay the cost of a fire-brigade call-out."
"The amount varies hugely depending on where in Ireland you live.
"It is very important to check that your insurance policy will cover this cost and not all of them do," he adds.