FIREFIGHTER stands outside an apartment building fire.
(photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
In addition to examining what went wrong during the December 2010 Mount Carmel
forest fire disaster, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss looked at how fire
authorities functioned in the first half of 2011.
His report contains a
damning list of failures.
The comptroller found that many fire stations
did not carry out training sessions as specified by instructions from the Fire
and Rescue Services, and not all firefighters took part in training sessions
that were held.
Even fire stations situated in areas that have high-rise
building areas, train stations and industrial areas failed to train for
scenarios involving the unique challenges of their regions.
firefighting school in Rishon Lezion failed to run any of the three courses set
by the Fire and Rescue Services in 2005. The school has no set training staff,
and it relies on staff recruited in an adhoc fashion, the report
As of January 2011, nine of out 24 fire station commanders were
not qualified firefighters, and were selected via an external tender, after
internal tenders failed to find suitable candidates.
Forty one percent of
firefighters are age 40 or over, and no examination of their physical fitness or
ability to meet mission is in place.
Lindenstrauss also found that
operational fire vehicles went out for non-mission related reasons, such as
shopping trips on 1,600 occasions between January 2010 and March
“This phenomenon is especially prevalent in fire stations in
Ashkelon, Beersheba, the Western Galilee and Haifa,” he wrote.
In 34% of
10,000 incidents classed as very dangerous, only one fire crew was dispatched to
the scene, as opposed to two, as regulations specify.
Just two individual
firefighters, and sometimes even one, arrived at very serious
“In such a situation, a large population has no solution
during an incident, to the point where lives and property are at risk,”
The report also criticized the fact that there are
no set arrival times for incidents.
The number of firefighters and
vehicles that head out to incidents is half of the average number of forces
dispatched to fires in most Western countries, and the arrival time of fire
crews in Israel is twice as long as in Western countries.
the current structure of fire authorities means that jurisdictions are set by
municipal borders, and not by the location of the closet firefighting
This means that fire crews located far from an incident could be
called to respond while closer crews are not.
“The findings also raised
suspicions of a clash of interests in the conduct of members of local regional
councils who are also members of regional fire unions, including employing
relatives, receiving donations from commercial bodies without any checks, and
issue of vehicles,” the report added.
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