We’re calling for an end to Fire brigade call out charges

 

Read our latest press release here on fire brigade call out charges:

Fees range from €0 to €750 per hour depending on where you live

AA Ireland has chosen Hallowe’en to call on the Government to bring an end to Fire brigade call out charges for householders and to instigate a complete overhaul of how fire services are funded across the country.

The current situation sees householders charged different and often hefty charges for calling out the fire brigade in the event of a fire or other emergency. The AA believes that the system is confusing, unfair and unsafe.

“Fire services have to be properly funded and of course we believe that our front line emergency responders need to be properly paid.” Says Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan. “But the current situation is that a householder calling 999/112 for a fire is charged anything from €0 to €750 per hour depending on where you live. We believe that this is unacceptable.”

Fire Services in Ireland are managed at local authority level with each council in recent years setting their own billing structure. The AA believes that this has led to a chaotic and unfair system with different councils using different criteria such as the cost per minute, per hour, per fire fighter, per brigade and the time of day the call out occurs. Of those who charge a flat fee the average rate for the first hour of a call out to a domestic fire is €476 up from €414 in October 2012.[1]  

For example, Waterford City Council does not charge at all for domestic fires with the exception of apartment complexes while at the upper end of the scale those living in Mayo are charged €750 per hour.[2]   While some fees are relatively straightforward, other local authorities enforce a complicated fee structure.

To make matters more confusing not all Home Insurers properly cover those fees. AA Home Insurance customers are fully covered in all cases but policies from others vary considerably. Regrettably people often don’t realize this until they try to make a claim.

“If you live in Monaghan for example it’s well worth doing your sums in advance of taking out your home insurance policy to figure out what level of cover you’ll need to cover fire brigade call out  charges if you’re ever unfortunate enough to need their services.” advises Faughnan.

Monaghan County Council’s payment structure is based on the national hourly rate per fire fighter (€19.86) plus the number of personal in attendance and duration. Their fees also change for night time, weekends and bank holiday call outs.

“We believe that it is fundamentally wrong for people to be charged when they call 999/112. In our view it’s a flawed policy and puts lives at risk. We should not tolerate a system where people have to give thought as to whether or not they can afford to call for help in an emergency. This is a particularly likely to happen if a home owner or resident doesn’t have any home insurance in place.” Says Faughnan.

The AA accepts that these services require considerable resources and certainly doesn’t begrudge fire-fighters of their hard earned wages; however they are calling on Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly, TD and his department to eliminate fees altogether at the point of use.

“Our Fire Services are an essential public service and ultimately we would like to arrive at a situation where they are exclusively financed through ‘The Local Government Fund’ which now benefits from Property Tax in addition to Motor Tax”.

The AA has provided home insurance for more than 30 years. Home insurance customers are the ones who ultimately pay Fire Brigade charges as they are normally paid via home insurance claims.

The AA for example offers up €3,000 while the industry average sits at €2,100[3].   While the overall government policy on this is wrong-headed, we have made sure that it doesn’t affect AA customers and we remind them that they should never be reluctant to call for help with a house fire for fear of being charged.” Says Faughnan.

Even small domestic fires are expensive. The AA reports that based on their own insurance book, the average insurance claim following a house fire is €15,000 when cleanup costs are factored in. The AA also stresses the importance of thinking beyond rebuild costs and to make sure their policy also provides a good level of cover for alternative accommodation.

Ends / more  

Notes to the editor;

 Table 1: Fire brigade call out charges by City Councils, County Councils, Borough Councils and Town Councils around the state:

  October 2012 May 2014
Athlone Town Council Domestic chimney fires: €500Other domestic fires: €675 per hour per fire brigade. Domestic chimney fires: €150.00Other domestic fires: €650.00
Carlow County Council Domestic chimney fires:€250Other domestic fires:For other domestic fires charged on the basis of no. of firemen x hourly wage of €19.86 plus any materials used during the call out. Domestic chimney fires: €250.00Other domestic fires: Charged on basis of no. of personal multiplied by hourly wage plus materials used during call out.
Cavan County Council Domestic chimney fires:€200.Other domestic fires: Fire-fighter’s fees plus additional 25% Domestic chimney fires: €200.00Other domestic fires: Fire fighters Fees plus 25%
Clare County Council Domestic chimney fires:€150.00Other domestic fires: Actual cost = fire fighter wages + employer PRSI + 60% overheads Domestic chimney fires: €200.00Other domestic fires: €500.00
Cork County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:No charges for private dwellings. Fee for rented properties of €480 per brigade per hour. Domestic chimney fires: €0.00Other domestic fires: €0.00Rented Properties: €480.00 per brigade per hour
Cork City Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:No charges for private dwellings. Fee for rented properties of €480 per brigade per hour. Domestic chimney fires: €0.00Other domestic fires: €0.00Rented Properties: €480.00 per brigade per hour
Donegal County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:€100.00 per brigade for a domestic call out Domestic chimney fires: €250.00 per brigadeOther domestic fires: €500.00 per brigade
Drogheda Borough Council Domestic chimney fires:€300 for a domestic chimney fireOther domestic fires: €7.50 per minute (€450 p/h) Domestic chimney fires: €300.00Other domestic fires: €7.50 per minute (€450 p/h)
Dublin City Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:€500 for the first hour. For every subsequent hour, a further €450 will be charged. Domestic chimney fires: €500.00 for first hour or part thereofOther domestic fires: €500.00 for first hour or part thereof
Dundalk Town Council Domestic chimney fires:€300Other domestic fires: €7.50 per minute (€450 p/h) Domestic chimney fires: €300.00Other domestic fires: €7.50 per minute (€450 p/h)
Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:€500 for the first hour. For every subsequent hour, a further €450 will be charged. Domestic chimney fires: €500.00 for first hour or part thereofOther domestic fires: €500.00 for first hour or part thereof
Fingal County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:€500 for the first hour. For every subsequent hour, a further €450 will be charged. Domestic chimney fires: €500.00 for first hour or part thereofOther domestic fires: €500.00 for first hour or part thereof
Galway County Council Domestic chimney fires:€300Other domestic fires: €460 p/h Domestic chimney fires: €300.00Other domestic fires: €460.00 per hour
Galway City Council  Domestic chimney fires:€300Other domestic fires: €460 p/h Domestic chimney fires: €300.00Other domestic fires: €460.00 per hour
Kerry County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires :€100 flat rate Domestic chimney fires: €100.00Other domestic fires: €0.00
Kildare County Council Domestic chimney fires:€200Other domestic fires: €500 if less than 2 hours, €1000 for 2-4 hours, in excess of 4 hours, €500 per hour. Domestic chimney fires: €200.00Other domestic fires:€500.00
Kilkenny County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:€70 per fire fighter p/h to the nearest quarter. Domestic chimney fires: €360.00Other domestic fires: Capped at €2k, up until this point charged at €70 per fire fighter p/h to the nearest quarter. 
Laois County Council Domestic chimney fires: € 150Other domestic fires: Actual costs inclusive of overheads. Domestic chimney fires: €150.00Other domestic fires: Actual cost inclusive of overheads
Leitrim County Council Domestic chimney fires:€200Other domestic fires: €400 for first hour, week days. €200 p/h thereafter.€800 for the first hour, weekends and bank holidays. €400 for every hour thereafter. Domestic chimney fires: €200.00Other domestic fires: €400.00per first hour
Limerick County Council Domestic chimney fires:€300Other domestic fires: €450 p/h per brigade Domestic chimney fires: €300.00Other domestic fires: €550.00
 Limerick City Council Domestic chimney fires: €100Other domestic fires: €440 p/h.  Domestic chimney fires: €300.00Other domestic fires: €550.00
Longford County Council Domestic chimney fires: €125 Domestic chimney fires: €150.00Other domestic fires: €150.00
Louth County Council Domestic chimney fires: €7.50 per minute (€450 p/h)Other domestic fires: €10 per minute (€600p/h) Domestic chimney fires: €300.00Other domestic fires: €7.50 per minute (€450 p/h)
Mayo County Council Domestic chimney fires: €150Other domestic fires: €750 p/h Domestic chimney fires: €150.00Other domestic fires: €750.00 per hour
Meath County Council Domestic chimney fires:€100Other domestic fires: €250 Domestic chimney fires: €100.00Other domestic fires: €100.00 less the 1 hour; €750 per hour thereof
Monaghan County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: None Fees based on the national hourly rate (€19.86) plus the number of personal in attendance and duration. Fees change for nighttime – W/End – B/Holiday
N. Tipperary County Council Domestic chimney fires: €366.00Other domestic fires: €433.00 p/h per fire brigade Domestic chimney fires: €366.00Other domestic fires: €433.00
S. Tipperary County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:€100 p/h for each of the first two hours. Fee varies thereafter between €260 – €450 p/h depending on day of week. Domestic chimney fires: €150.00Other domestic fires: €450.00 per hour, max of €1700.00
Offaly County Council Domestic chimney fires: €150Other domestic fires: €450 p/h or actual cost of brigade whichever is less up to a max of €1700. Domestic chimney fires: €300.00Other domestic fires: €400.00 per hour, max €1500.00
Roscommon County Council Domestic chimney fires: €250Other domestic fires: €500 p/h per brigade for all other daytime domestic fires and €750 p/h per brigade for all other night time, weekend and bank holidays. Domestic chimney fires: €250.00Other domestic fires: €500 or €750 after 10pm and before 7am inclusive of B/Holidays and W/ends.
Sligo County Council  Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: None. However, where the fire brigade attend an incident at dwelling type accommodation which is being leased or rented, it shall be charged at the non-domestic rate of€125 per completed quarter hour per fire brigade in attendance, subject to a minimum charge of €500 per hour per brigade.  Domestic chimney fires: € 0.00Other domestic fires: €0.00
South Dublin County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:€500 for the first hour. For every subsequent hour, a further €450 will be charged. Domestic chimney fires: €500.00 for first hour or part thereofOther domestic fires: €500.00 for first hour or part thereof
Waterford County Council Domestic chimney fires: €300Other domestic fires: €500 p/h Do not charge for domestic fires at all unless it’s an apartment. In that instance they would charge €550 per hour, per brigade.
Waterford City Council Domestic chimney fires: €300 Chimney FireOther domestic fires: €500 p/h Do not charge for domestic fires at all.
Westmeath County Council Domestic chimney fires: €500Other domestic fires: €675.00 p/h for each brigade attending Domestic chimney fires: €150.00Other domestic fires: €0.00
Wexford County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:€350 Domestic chimney fires: €350.00Other domestic fires: €350.00
Wicklow County Council Domestic chimney fires: €250Other domestic fires: Wage cost + 1/3 overheads Domestic chimney fires: €250.00Other domestic fires: Wage cost + 1/3 of overheads.

Above fees sourced from the website of respective City Councils, County Councils, Borough Councils and Town Councils around the state or through direct telephone calls carried out on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th May 2014. Note some website prices have not been updated since 2011. A large portion of councils are reviewing their Fire Service call out charges as there is no parity between districts/city/county.

Table 2: Average local authority rates for fire brigade call out fees for domestic chimney fires and other domestic fires (Figures based on authorities where fixed fees are charged and on the assumption the duration of the call out is 1 hour):

  Average fee Oct 2012 Average fee May 2014
Other domestic fires (excl. chimney fires) €414 €475.86

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] See table 2 in notes section below. The prizes taken exclude adds ons for bank holidays and unsociable hours.

[2]Prices sourced during May 2014, please see table in notes section below.

[3]Figures sourced via a home insurance comparison study carried out by the AA during August 2014.