DOZENS of Dublin households have been slapped with a €500 call-out fee for false alarms to the fire service
New figures show that 149 domestic call-outs last year involved no fire at all -- but the householder or landlord involved was still charged.
Some 118 of the false alarm incidents referred to apartments while 31 related to houses in the city.
However, fire service sources told the Herald that bills in these cases were only sent out if officers believed the call-out could have been avoided.
"Often when an alarm sounds, people call the fire brigade and it is of course our duty to respond.
"You must remember that a call-out involves a lot of time and manpower," a well-placed source explained.
"But it's crucial to emphasise that charges are only levied when it is felt the call-out could have been avoided. All cases are dealt with on an individual basis."
Sources say that fire crew have often been dispatched after an alarm was set off "maliciously" -- only to find that there is no fire at all.
In relation to apartments, the landlord is sent the bill in the majority of cases, often when an alarm is set off at their property within a complex.
The council's figures, released to Councillor Cieran Perry, show a total of 678 chargeable domestic incidents have been logged by Dublin Fire Brigade since the introduction of the call-out fee in January 2012.
However, a large number of people are refusing to pay the fees.
Some 120 of these incidents are classified as chimney fires with a further 53 relating to car fires.
Lift releases accounted for 18 of the total incidents, while nine bills were sent out for both lock outs and gas leaks.