Charges for fire emergency call-outs
Sir, – The Public Notice from Dublin City Council in The Irish Times(p29, January 12th) raises some alarming questions.
As a retired fire safety engineer and a former member of the Fire Services Council, I find the decision to announce at four days’ notice (including the weekend) a charge for attendances by the Dublin Fire Brigade quite shocking and illogical. This will lead to injuries and possibly even deaths.
The hard-pressed householder or tenant will think twice before calling the fire brigade to any initially small domestic fire – and they all start small – preferring to try to tackle it themselves, perhaps leading to a much more serious fire before having to call for assistance in the end. In the meantime, he or she might have received serious burns in their vain effort. They may also have thought they extinguished the fire when in fact there was still smouldering material ready to re-ignite at any minute, something which the trained fireman would ensure was dealt with before departing the scene.
Dublin City Council also refers to the €500 charge being payable for “false alarms”. Such a suggestion is almost laughable as it is not very long since a fire brigade officer at the chief fire officers’ annual conference told the gathering that some 94 per cent of false alarms are “not traceable”.
The charge of €610 for attendance at Road Traffic Accidents raises many more questions, including: 1. If a fire tender arrives to provide first aid or other medical attention, will the injured party have to pay, even if the call by a bystander was for an ambulance – remember that Dublin Fire Brigade provides the ambulance service for most of their response area? I am aware of several recent cases where a fire tender was sent due to a shortage of accident ambulances.
2. What happens if gardaí at the scene request a fire service attendance to assist in removing a vehicle or vehicles from the carriageway to prevent traffic delays? Who pays? The gardaí? 3. Who pays if the gardaí call the Dublin Fire Brigade to wash down the road of debris or oil after the removal of a vehicle? 4. If a motorist or passengers are trapped and have to be freed from a crashed vehicle, they have no option but to be rescued by the fire service.
This is then a compulsory charge for being in an accident – you cannot opt out and therefore must pay. Where is the fairness in that? There are very more questions that could be asked, I have just picked out a small number of what I believe to be pertinent.
Remember also that this does not just apply to the Dublin City Council area but applies to all those living in Dublin City, Dublin South, Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and for Road Traffic Accidents along stretches of the motorways extending into adjoining counties.
The only solution to the costs of the fire services in the greater Dublin area is the same one sought for the past 60 years: the proper funding by State and local authorities of a service that has been bled of such funds and which continues to, for example, use vehicles that are up to 20 years old and patently not up to the job they are required to perform. The householder or tenant should not be required to bolster the funds of the fire service. – Yours, etc,