The Knesset approved a law establishing a National Fire and Rescue Force today. The new law entails dismantling the local fire forces and establishing seven districts throughout the country and transferring authority over the force to the Fire Commission.
The law follows the government decision from January 9, 2011, which, in light of the Mt. Carmel forest fire, called for the establishment of a national fire authority under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Security. This was the same recommendation made by numerous reports over the last three decades, including the most recent report by the State Comptroller.
Main Points of the Law
The new law changes the structure of the fire service from a municipality-based, divided force, into a single, unified, national force.
The new law regulates the organizational structure of the fire force.
The law broadens the authority of the Fire Commissioner, who will now command over the force, determine the number and locations of fire stations, and decide on the size of the force.
The new law determines the authority of firefighters and provides fire safety inspectors with the authority to enforce fire codes in buildings and outdoor spaces.
All firefighters will now become government employees.
The jurisdiction over hazardous materials will be transferred from the Environmental Protection Ministry to the Fire Commission.
Fees for fire services will be updated.
The process of implementing the law and the new changes will be completed by February 1, 2013.
Fire and Rescue Commissioner Shahar Ayalon said, “I congratulate the courageous firefighters on the new law, which will propel the fire forces forward and enable better capabilities for the citizens of Israel.”
Commissioner Ayalon thanked Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch; Director General of the Ministry, Rotem Peleg; Chairman of the Internal Committee, MK Amnon Cohen and the committee members; as well as the workers’ union, the firefighters’ union, and the Center for Local Government.