MORE than €430,000 in fire service call-out charges was owed in Limerick at the end of last year, figures published this week show.
According to the figures, the Limerick Fire and Rescue service, received a total of €849,598.98 during 2014.
However, as of December 31, last a further €437,720.95 in call-out charges had not been paid to the local authority.
The unpaid charges equate to just over a third (34%) of the total charges levied by the Limerick Fire and Rescue service, which is under the remit of Limerick City and County Council.
According to the Irish Times, a total of €4.6 million in unpaid charges was outstanding across the country with Tipperary County Council ranking worst in terms of collecting call-out charges.
A spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council confirmed the figures but added that in many cases, the call-out charges are paid by insurance companies which can result in delays in payment.
“Many claims are currently being processed by insurance companies so this always takes a bit of time to finalise,” said the spokesperson.
The Limerick Fire and Rescue service has confirmed its call-out charges range from €300 for attending a chimney fire to €1,100 per hour for attending commercial fires.
An hourly charge of €550 is applied in the case of domestic house fires - irrespective of how many fire brigades and personnel are deployed.
While it is open to any one of the country’s local authorities to pursue the non-payment of call-out charges through the courts, such actions are unusual.
Since last year, Limerick City and County Council has operated a single fire and rescue service - under the direction of chief fire officer, Michael Ryan.
Limerick Fire and Rescue service responds to around 1,600 incidents across the city and county annually.
In addition to attending fires, the most frequent call-outs relate to road traffic accidents, water pumping, incidents of flooding, river rescues, hazardous substances in transit, incidents of lock-out, and false alarms
There are 60 full-time firefighters based at Limerick Fire station on Mulgrave Street and 72 retained firefighters, who each live within two miles of fire stations at Abbeyfeale, Cappamore, Foynes, Kilmallock, Newcastle West and Rathkeale.
A spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council said details of call-outs are not broken down into individual locations or geographic areas across Limerick.