Fire brigade strike threatens Madonna gig

Firefighters demand more manpower; gov't says it's acting to soften budget-cut blow to brigade.

firefighters katyusha  (photo credit: Channel 2)
firefighters katyusha
(photo credit: Channel 2)
The Firefighters Union on Wednesday began a partial strike, which may lead to the cancellation of the upcoming Madonna and Leonard Cohen concerts, as well as the final episode of the reality television show, 'A Star is Born.' If the firefighters' demands for additional funds and manpower are not met, music fans will be forced to stay at home, union chairman Yoav Gadsi told Army Radio. "In any big event under the sun, including Maccabi Haifa's Champions League qualifier, the police require the services of the fire brigade, but we won't be there," he warned. As part of their protests, firefighters were gathered at main junctions, parked their fire engines there and distributed leaflets to drivers. Fire and Rescue Commissioner Shimon Romach said he backed the protest, asserting that the fire brigade was severely short on manpower. "Our manpower is insufficient even for routine situations, certainly not for more extreme cases," he said. Firefighters were set to intensify their protests on Sunday. In response, the Finance Ministry said that the state budget approved in the Knesset less than a month ago included broad cuts to all ministries, as agreed upon by the cabinet. "The Finance Ministry and Interior Ministry have already stated their intention to act to soften the blow to the fire brigade," read a statement. "So we're astonished by the steps the firefighters are taking."