Knesset approves nat'l firefighting authority law

National authority will replace of the dozens of local fire authorities in place throughout the country.

July 26, 2012 00:57
1 minute read.
Fire Service Commissioner Shahar Ayalon

Fire Service Commissioner Shahar Ayalon 311. (photo credit: YAAKOV LAPPIN)

The Knesset voted into law a bill to create a national firefighting authority on Wednesday.

The national authority will replace of the dozens of local fire authorities in place throughout the country. Fire chiefs will divide the country into seven fire districts, similar to the police’s districts, and all firefighting units will be overseen by the fire commissioner.

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Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Shahar Ayalon welcomed the new law, saying it would better serve the public.

The law was made possible due to an agreement reached last week between all government ministries involved in the reform, after months of disagreements and a stalemate over funding. Under the reform, the fire service’s budget will receive an additional cash injection of NIS 1 billion per year.

Harel Locker, director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, managed to bridge a deadlock in negotiations by proposing a gradual budget increase.

“For the first time in many years, we are submitting a national fire service with one commander and two branches – the ground branch, which has been upgraded, and the aerial branch, which has been established,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak 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.”

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