In a historic move, Israel
has nationalized the Fire and Rescue
Services on Friday to form a new, state-wide organization with 100 stations, countrywide.
"From now on fire and rescue services will be provided as part of the regular State services received by citizens," Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Shahar Ayalon said.
"The same as no one will think to bill a citizen for calling the police after his house was burglarized, so the new legislation gives fire and rescue services free-of-charge," he said
Before the reform, these services were operated by the local authorities which billed citizens for their use.
"Citizens found themselves owing from several hundred shekels to tens-of-thousands in firefighting services costs," said Fire Safety and Investigations Deputy Chief Haim Tamam.
"The unions had to charge fees in order to survive, but these will be cancelled within the next few months," he added.
Ayalon said that the State took it upon itself to operate all the fire and rescue services to the cost of hundreds-of-millions NIS.
Since the reform was initiated dozens of new fire trucks and equipment were purchased, and an eight-aircraft strong firefighting squadron was established, expected grow to include 14 planes in the future.
But the main problem which concerns Ayalon is manpower: "We are about 1,700 firefighters short," he said.
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