ALMOST two thirds of businesses are still being chased for payment after calling out the services of Dublin Fire Brigade this year.
And more than 30pc of homeowners are ignoring the €500 call-out fee as the service continues to chase more than €160,000 invoiced for the 10 months to October.
Figures obtained by the Herald show that while businesses have racked up €593,761 for 486 call-outs, only €184,716 has been paid.
Homeowners made 768 calls to the emergency service, but paid only €231,061.50 of the €392,537 total bill.
Since 2012, the service has charged a call-out fee of €500 for domestic fires for the first hour of service, with a further €450 for each additional hour units spend at the scene.
The brigade has been charging a fee on commercial premises since 2003, including €610 for the first hour and €485 for every hour thereafter.
These figures are slightly higher in some cases. For road traffic accidents, the call-out fee is €610 with additional hours charged at €485, while businesses that call out special fire services for incidents involving hazardous substances can expect to pay a call-out fee of €915.
A spokesman for Dublin Chamber of Commerce said it was "disappointing" that such a high percentage of businesses were failing to pay their bills.
"We would never condone people not paying bills," he said. "I don't know whether some of the companies might have gone out of business, but it seems like a very high number.
"Dublin Fire Brigade is obviously a very important service, and it's certainly not one that should be abused.
"If you've got to phone the fire brigade, you've got to phone them. If you do, I think we all know there is a fee involved.
"It's pretty disappointing to hear that businesses are not paying their bills. If you're using the service, you should pay the bill."
Dublin City Council said most home insurance policies cover fire call-out charges and, in such cases, householders can recoup the charge under their policies following payment.
A Dublin Fire Brigade spokeswoman said this is also the case for most businesses.