CASH-strapped West Midlands Fire Service has announced it will start charging for non emergency call outs in a bid to save money.
Residents will be charged if they call the fire brigade out to incidents such as lock outs, animal rescues, clearance of debris and the removal of flood water.
The change has come into place following revision of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, which came into force on February 18 2012 and sets new guidelines and freedoms for fire authorities on charging for services carried out by fire and rescue services.
Anyone requesting non-emergency assistance will now be advised that they will be expected to cover the call out and attendance costs. This is calculated on a cost recovery basis which is currently £412.80 including VAT, per fire appliance/specialist vehicle, per hour.
Watch Commander Wesley Williams at West Midlands Fire Service said: "We must ensure that genuine emergencies, which require the use of our specialist resources, receive a priority response.
"People call 999 and ask us to attend incidents when there is clearly no emergency, risk of danger, or threat to life; and we are not explicitly funded to do this.
"There remains no charge for officers attending serious incidents such as fires and road traffic collisions."
Vij Randeniya, Chief Fire Officer added: "We have made no secret of the financial difficulties we are currently facing and with potential funding cuts of up to s30 million, it is clear we have to prioritise our resources.
"I am committed to ensuring that the people of the West Midlands receive the best possible service from us, and I hope they will support us by only using 999 for genuine emergencies."