The Knesset’s Interior Committee unanimously approved a bill that will bring about the much hoped for reform in the Fire and Rescue Services. The bill will now have to pass a second and third reading in the Knesset before it can be passed into law, transforming the fire service into a national force under the authority of the Ministry of Public Security.
The Minister of Public Security, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, said at the committee meeting that this is a historic agreement for the State of Israel, society, and fire and rescue personnel. “We are part of a historic decision implementing a fire service law that will be the basis of a national, professional force, fit for the State of Israel.”
Yesterday, a multi-year budget agreement for the fire service was signed, and a collective wage agreement has also been was signed between the Ministry of Finance and the firefighter’s union.
The impetus for the reform was the Mt. Carmel forest fire which took the lives of 44 people in December 2010. Following the fire, the government decided to transfer the authority of the fire service to the Ministry of Public Security, in addition to making other structural changes, and promoting new legislation.
Presently, the fire service is made up of local fire departments. In order to transform the service into a national force, the Ministry of Public Security has been making great efforts.
A one billion shekel, multi-year budget was formulated, which will enable the following changes to take place:
- Establishing a national firefighting force
- Enlisting an additional 1,000 firefighters
- Establishing over 40 new fire stations
- Acquiring more than 100 new fire vehicles
- Replacing 100 out-of-date fire vehicles
- Establishing a volunteer firefighting unit
- Completing the establishment of an aerial firefighting unit
The Minister of Public Security said, “We have worked hard to get here. We have done a lot to overhaul the fire service. We have enlisted firefighters, purchased new fire trucks, and much more. We are now embarking on an important journey to bring about a major change and create an organization with a unified structure and great capabilities.”
Aharonovitch, said at the committee meeting that this is a historic agreement for the State of Israel, society, and fire and rescue personnel. “We are part of a historic decision implementing a fire service law that will be the basis of a national, professional force, fit for the State of Israel.”