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Dublin Fire Brigade to charge for attending road traffic accidents, as local authorities struggle to make ends meet

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Dublin Fire Service

Dublin city's fire service is reportedly planning to levy a €610 fee for road traffic accident call-outs as local councils turn to charging for emergency services in another bid to boost ever-ailing revenues.

The proposals, reported in both today's Irish Times and Belfast Telegraph would encompass more than just fire service accident assistance costs: an equal charge of €610 would also accrue for having to attend chimney fires, while domestic fires would be relatively cheaper, at just €500.

Although a number of local authorities already institute such measures on a limited scale, this would the first time in recent history that the measures are introduced to the capital, by far Ireland's biggest population center.

A levy of 1.5% of household insurance costs already goes towards helping the fire service recoup its costs in tending the nation's fires.
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One commenter to the Belfast Telegraph had this to say on the article:

"I just had to check the date there for a second, I thought this was some sort of sick April's Fools Day joke, surely this is not true?".

Dublin Central TD Maureen O’Sullivan said that measures should be directed instead at tackling nuisance calls to the fire service, rather than penalizing legitimate ones.

And Firefighers themselves have already expressed their opposition to the proposals.

Firefighting members of SIPTU (the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union) said that charging househoulders for fire service calls would dis-incentivize them from doing so -- encouraging a dangerous reluctance to dial emergency services in the event of a real fire, or to resort to attempting to deal with the fire themselves in order to avoid incurring the charge.

“Fire-fighters across the country already experience a situation where elderly people in particular will attempt to deal with a house or chimney fire themselves rather than face a possible charge for calling the fire-service.

“We are calling on the members of Dublin City Council to reject any proposal from the management to introduce such charges,” sector organiser Owen Rediy told InsideIrealand.ie.

GPS, postcodes, continue to post a problem

And firefighters are struggling in more ways than one.

A recent report on news aggregation site TheJournal.ie shows that firefighters are struggling to find addresses during emergencies because the government has yet to introduce nationwide postcodes -- and (somewhat amazingly) their vehicles aren't yet fitted out with GPS.

"There could be a town land three or four miles in radius. You’d know that you’re within half a mile of the address, but that’s all. It’s an emergency call, so you want to be there as quickly as you can. A minute or two could make all the difference," a fire representative told the website.

The Health Service Executive said that it recognized that the fire services were having an issue with finding rural addresses during emergencies.

The tendering process for introducing a national system of postcodes was begun earlier this year.

Besides addresses in the Dublin metropolitan area, Ireland does not have postcodes.
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