Impressive 35-year experience in firefighting (archives) Photo: AP
Top French firefighter makes aliyah
Frank Louie, a senior firefighting officer in Paris, had everything he needed. And yet, upon retiring, he decided to immigrate to Israel and volunteer at Eilat Fire Department. 'This is the place for Jews,' he says
Louie has an impressive 35-year experience in firefighting. He began his career as a volunteer in the Paris Fire Brigade. Ten years later, when he was promoted to the rank of captain, he was officially recruited by France's fire service, and continued to climb up the ranks until he became a colonel.
As part of his job, he oversaw 42 fire departments in northern Paris with 3,200 firefighters.
During his service, he says, he led an operation to extinguish a Concorde aircraft that caught fire in France, and left to Haiti with a rescue operation following the powerful earthquake that hit the country.
His love for Israel is so strong that during the first Gulf War, he initiated a visit to the Jewish state and volunteered at the Tel Aviv fire department while the city was hit by Iraqi missiles.
During the Second Lebanon War,
he flew over again and volunteered at the fire department in Haifa, which was attacked by Hezbollah
Upon reaching the age of retirement, he asked himself what he should do next. The answer was clear: Make aliyah.
"My grandparents were murdered in the Auschwitz death camp, and it was important for me to immigrate to Israel, which is the safest place for Jews," he says.
Louie, who is divorced and has children, landed in Israel on his own and decided to settle in Eilat. Several days after his arrival, he paid a visit to the Eilat Fire Department, introduced himself and announced that he would like to volunteer there. He was welcomed with open arms.
"I was greeted like family, both in the fire department and in the city," he says excitedly.
According to Captain Yehuda Ksantini, commander of the Eilat Fire Department, "Louie is a just Zionist man who wants to share his knowledge and help. It's hard to believe that there are still such people, Zionists and volunteers. We need more people like him."