Dial 911, and pay it too

[caption id="attachment_68347" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="A firefighter at the window could soon mean a bill in the mailbox."]


Call the fire department in Dublin could end up burning your bank account.

From next year, residents of the city could be charged hundreds of euro for dialing 999 (the Irish version of 911) and seekinghelp from the Dublin Fire Brigade.

The proposal to charge, from Dublin City Council, would see domestic fire service charges begin in January 2012.

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Proposed figures on the table include a first-hour fee of €500 for call-outs to domestic fires, €610 for vehicle fires and €610 to attend a chimney fire. It also includes a first-hour fee of €610 for road traffic accidents.

The first-hour rate will be fixed and following hours are charged per fire truck attending. It is also understood there will be no waiver scheme.

But Dublin Fire Brigade SIPTU (union) representative Gerry Harris said the proposed cuts could cost lives.

"A person who cannot afford to pay a charge might attempt to put out the fire themselves and that could put their lives at risk, and put fire fighters' lives at risk, as the fire would be more developed when they got there."

Mr. Harris said there were other ways to fund the fire service that wouldn't affect safety.

"A change of legislation is needed to allow the 1.5 percent fire levy, as part of all householders' insurance, to be given directly to the fire service," he said.