MORE than half of all bills for Dublin Fire Brigade emergency services remain unpaid.
Dublin City Council is considering taking legal action against non-payers as it seeks to recoup more than €500,000 in unpaid fire brigade charges.
The council began charging for fire brigade call-outs in January 2012.
Families whose homes caught fire were sent bills by the council at a rate of €500 for the first hour or part of an hour for going to fires.
Every extra hour or part of an hour after that is billed at €450 an hour.
Responding to traffic accidents is more expensive, with a bill of €610 for the first hour and any extra time being charged at €485 an hour.
In the first year of billing fire victims, the council sent out bills totalling almost €425,000 for domestic fire emergencies. They were paid a total of almost €194,000.
Most victims of domestic fires have fire insurance on their homes and the fire brigade bill would be one of the costs to be recouped to residents by their fire policies.
The move to send bills was prompted so that insurance companies rather than taxpayers would pay for the services of the firefighters.
Last year, the total amount invoiced to domestic fire victims was €440,000, of which only €230,000 was recouped from those who received the bills.
This year, the council has sent out invoices for €147,000 for call-outs. So far, €29,000 has been paid, according to the Sunday Business Post.
A council spokeswoman told the newspaper that payments by installments are being more frequently being availed of by the public. But in a very small number of cases, where financial hardship was established, bills have been waived.