(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Representatives of KKL-JNF and other dignitaries assembled at Rosh HaAyin Fire Station in an atmosphere of excited anticipation to see the volunteers receive their graduation certificates.
This volunteer firefighters’ course was a joint venture orchestrated by KKL-JNF, Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services and the Rosh HaAyin Municipality, in order to increase the number of firefighting personnel available in areas adjacent to forests and woodlands. So far, this collaboration has produced volunteer firefighting units in Karmei Yosef, Hevel Modiin, Mesillat Zion and Elad. The Rosh HaAyin course was the fifth in the series, and there are still more to come.
“This is a win-win situation,” declared KKL-JNF Coastal Plain Community and Forest Coordinator Mira Zer. “We’re taking advantage of the fact that the professionals want extra help with combating forest fires. The most important thing is to keep the forests green and ensure that they don’t turn black.”
KKL-JNF takes a number of measures to help prevent forest fires, including thinning the woodlands, creating firebreaks to stop flames from spreading, encouraging grazing to reduce grasses and undergrowth, and fire watching throughout most of the year from both ground level and observation towers. Sometimes, sadly, fires break out nonetheless, and that is when the help provided by the Fire and Rescue Services is of critical importance.
“We invest a great deal in the development and conservation of the forests,” said Yehiel Cohen, Deputy Director of KKL-JNF’s Central Region. “Every citizen or resident who is prepared to fight for the forest and help to conserve it is a welcome addition.”
Rosh HaAyin native Dalia Barzilai has volunteered in the past in a variety of frameworks. “The course combines public service with action,” she said. “You’re contributing to the community and giving something of yourself, but you’re getting something in return.” The physical demands of the job did not deter her. “The protective equipment is heavy, it’s true, but it’s not difficult – it’s all a matter of practice.”
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