INSURANCE companies are to be asked to foot the emergency services bills for the thousand road traffic accidents in Dublin every year, which are currently funded by local authorities.
It is the latest call to address significant charges related to fire and ambulance call-outs which are being funded by the city's four councils. Last June, Dublin City Council said the Health Service Executive (HSE) was in arrears of €3.5m to the local authorities in relation to ambulance services also provided through the Dublin fire brigade.
At Fingal County Council tomorrow, the issue of insurance companies being forced to pick up the tab for road traffic accidents is due to be debated.
"A lot of the fire brigade's work nowadays is in relation to road traffic accidents," said Cllr Peter Coyle, who has called for an overhaul of the system.
He believes such accidents are a drain on the authorities' finances which remain under increasing financial pressure in the run-up to this year's budget.
"The fire brigade are exceptionally good at the work that they do but the actual costs are not being recovered," he said. "There is a concern we are coming up to our estimates this year and there were even concerns last year as to what is paid to the fire brigade, which is going up and up every year, even though the number of fires is going down."
Insurance companies are paying for damage to vehicles and personal injuries but not the emergency services costs associated with tending to accidents, said Coyle.
Dublin Fire Brigade units, not including ambulances, attend an average of 1,000 road traffic accidents every year. Last year, the number was closer to 1,200. Local authorities in Dublin do not charge for the utilisation of fire tenders in emergency situations outside of commercial businesses.
A Fire Brigade Development Board (FBDB) has now been established to discuss a number of key recommendations made in a report by England's chief fire officer in relation to the system in Dublin. All four local authorities, Fingal, Dublin City, South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown are to be represented.
The report recommended an overhaul of the fire service in the capital in light of ongoing financial and staffing concerns.