The head of the national firefighters' union has called on members to sever ties with the Fire and Rescue Service Commission in the Interior Ministry, for failing to consult with the firefighters over proposed reforms. The chairman of the Israel Professional Firefighters' Organization, Yoav Gadasi, has also announced sanctions the union plans to take.

In the past the union has opposed reform plans over concerns that they might deprive them of the right to organize and to strike.

Gadasi also expressed opposition to proposed reforms during a session of the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee, on Thursday. These recommendations were issued in 1998 by the Ginossar Committee. Gadassi said the proposals had already been deemed unacceptable because they stripped firefighters of the right to organize in a workplace and linked firefighters' salaries to those of police officers.

The fire and rescue commission did not issue an official response but sources in the agency said the proposal was preliminary, and that the right to organize and to strike would be debated during the final stages of readying firefighting reform legislation.

Gadasi said the firefighters' school will suspend continuing education classes for firefighters. In addition, firefighters will stop attending joint oversight committees with the commission or allow the agency's surveyors and appraisers into fire stations.

Gadasi stressed that union members will continue to cooperate with the teams that are studying the recent Carmel fire and that no services related to protecting lives or property will be withheld.