Legal threat for 60pc who failed to pay for fire call-outs
DUBLIN Fire Brigade has collected less than half of the call-out charges owed to it.
The fire brigade, which serves 1.2 million people in the greater Dublin area, charges a call-out fee of €500 for domestic fires, and since January of this year they have applied over €346,000 in charges.
A spokesperson has confirmed that, to date, just under 40pc of these fees have been paid to the council.
"From January 1, 2013, to date, €346,175 in domestic fire charges have been applied," a spokesperson said.
"To date, €132,245 has been received with €213,930 outstanding."
The spokesperson confirmed that non-payment will result in legal proceedings – however, no payment deadline has been set for those who are invoiced and no legal action has been initiated yet.
Call-out charges were first introduced in the four local authority areas in Dublin in January last year.
Occupants in domestic premises in Dublin are charged €500 for the first hour of the fire brigade's service for fires and chimney fires, and €450 for an additional hour or part thereof.
Fees may be waived in some circumstances, including on the basis of hardship.
Fire service call-out charges vary across the country, and authorities in Ireland's second largest city, Cork, don't charge any fee for domestic call-outs.
John Kidd, the chairman of Irish Fire & Emergency Services Association (IFESA), told the Irish Independent that his organisation is "totally against the charges".
"Our position is that there should be no call-out charges. We genuinely believe the fire service should be taken away from the local authorities and made a national fire service, where the Government could deal directly with the insurance and get contributions towards the fire service," he said.
Mr Kidd, who retired from active fire service duties two years ago, said he is worried the call-out charge is acting as a deterrent – and that lives may be lost because of it.
"We have concerns, because people – rather than call the fire brigade – are willing to take chances, and eventually there is going to be an awful lot of lives lost."