Israel Political Brief July 16, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Achieves Agreement on Establishing a National Fire and Rescue Service



Agreement Achieved on Establishing a National Fire and Rescue Service

Source: PMO, 7-16-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, today, presented the reform of the fire service. In the framework of the reform, a national fire and rescue service will be established to replace the local fire services in the local authorities; the fire service budget will also be increased to NIS 1 billion. The budgetary outline for implementing the reform was formulated by Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Harel Locker; the base for the fire service budget, which currently stands at NIS 700 million, will be increased by NIS 300 million over the next six years, NIS 100 million of which will be allocated in 2013.

The Knesset Interior Committee is expected to approve the reform today ahead of its second and third readings in the plenum next Monday.

Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Ministers Steinitz and Aharonovitch, Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen, Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni, PMO Director-General Locker and Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner Shahar Ayalon for the joint effort that led to the formulation of the reform. “I would like to thank the firefighters and their commander, Shahar Ayalon, who battle amidst the heat on the fireline. This war against fires is effective and we see the results. For the first time in many years, we are submitting a national fire service with one commander and two arms – the ground arm, which has been upgraded, and the aerial arm, which has been established. Part of these changes have already taken effect and what we have seen until today, that over 200 fires have been extinguished since the Carmel wildfire, without developing into massive fires, is the result of the upgrade that has been done,” the Prime Minister said.

Public Security Minister Aharonovitch said, “We are witnessing an historic day and are in a completely different place than where we were one-and-a-half years ago. There is a great change here. We saw the results yesterday as well, with the dramatic change effected by the planes and their many sorties. We have entered a new era and I hope that next Monday, we will have a law that we can all welcome.”

Finance Minister Steinitz said, “The State of Israel has been waiting for this reform for 20 years, a reform that puts in place a single national fire service, with one command, with the ability to move efficiently from place to place. The reform also needs financing and the budget that we are talking about today will go directly toward financing the reform and promises a genuine improvement in the fire service.”

Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner Ayalon said, “This is an historic process and an historic moment. Now, for me, the work on building a fire service begins. I would like to thank everyone for the expedited work on the reform.”

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