DOWNGRADING the Dun Laoghaire fire service at night to a part-time operation will cost lives, firefighters have warned.
The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) branded the idea "crazy" and a "disgrace".
It comes after Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council said the low number of emergency calls at night does not justify a full-time service.
But IFESA's John Kidd told the Herald: "I think it's a disgrace. People will die. This proposal will cost lives."
If firemen were on-call during the night instead of based in the stations at Dun Laoghaire and Rathfarnham, it would take them 10 minutes to get to a tender, by which time lives would be lost, Mr Kidd said.
He believes the plans may be part of a strategy to get reform.
"If this is the proposal from the [council] management, it is a tactic to get significant change from firefighters in Dublin," Mr Kidd said.
In an email sent directly to the council, concerned firemen outlined their objections.
"Statistics show people who die in fires, die during the night and die in their own homes.
"The delays involved in mobilising a part-time fire service during night-time hours will have terrible effects and the people of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council will pay the terrible price.
"It's an idiotic suggestion," they said.
However, Labour councillor Stephen Fitzpatrick insisted the high cost of the service – €13.6m in Dun Laoghaire – needs to be tackled.
"In Kildare, there is a large population, but it is a completely part-time service and there is no full-time operation," he said.
Dublin Fire Brigade is funded by the capital's four local authorities.
The lead authority, Dublin City Council, has arrangements in place for the provision of emergency services in each of the council areas
A spokesman for Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown insisted there is no plan at the moment for a part-time service.
"There has been no proposal to operate a part-time fire service in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown.
The county council is seeking to negotiate a new agreement with Dublin City Council for the provision of fire and rescue services within the County by Dublin Fire Brigade.
"The council recognises the critical nature of the fire and rescue service and the important role it plays in saving lives. Our priority is to ensure that the best possible level of service is provided."
The brigade operates two full-time stations in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown – one on Kill Avenue in Dun Laoghaire and the other in Nutgrove, Rathfarnham.
In a report this month, county manager Owen Keegan said the council is not receiving value for money.
Mr Keegan said there was a strong need to address the full-time service partly because there is a low demand for fire services during the night.