Last March, the Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) bill passed first reading at the Knesset's plenum with the government's backing. Since then, and despite back-to-back meetings and discussions, the committee has been struggling to overcome two bureaucratic obstacles.
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One of the problems is the transfer of the FRS's equipment from local authorities to the state, seeing as the authorities are demanding a financial settlement. Another challenge is the implementation of the decision to turn firefighters into civil servants which the firefighters association objects to.
"The new bill introduces a structural change to the Fire and Rescue Services, from a decentralized body into a unified national emergency authority," the bill states.
Carmel Fire, December 2010 (Photo: Hagai Aharon)
MK Amnon Cohen, chairman of the Knesset's House Committee, has spent the past few weeks holding meetings with local authority and union leaders in an effort to bridge the differences impeding the legislation.
The committee is slated to hold a discussion on the matter next week in the hopes of qualifying it for second and third readings.
"It should be noted that the committee has voiced its concern over the state of Israel's Fire Services and lack of budgets even before the Carmel Fire," the committee said.
"It should be noted that approval in second and third readings is not simple. Two main issues are withholding the legislative process. MK Cohen is working as a voluntary mediator to solve the matter."
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