Comptroller Report to Find Firefighting Services Close to Collapse

In a report that has been rushed to release in light of the Carmel fire, the government will be blamed for a deterioration in firefighting services since the Lebanon War.

The State Comptroller report on Israel's firefighting and emergency aid services that will be released on Wednesday afternoon will determine that the preparedness level of the firefighting services has deteriorated since the Second Lebanon War, to the point that they may collapse in an emergency, threatening human life.

It is expected that the report author, retired Judge Micha Lindenstrauss will find serious shortcomings in the organizational preparedness of the firefighting services and overall shortfalls in human resources, vehicles, fire stations and equipment.

lindenstrauss - Olivia Pitusi - December 7 2010
Olivia Pitusi

The report is expected to lay responsibility for the collapse of the firefighting services clearly on Interior Minister Eli Yishai and the ministry itself, which is responsible for firefighting services.

The report is also expected to relate to the commitments made by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, responsible for the national emergency services, to activate, fund, and organize firefighting services that will satisfy current needs.

The Step Comptroller report, which was written before the huge Carmel fire, is a report on the failures of the home front command that came to light during the Second Lebanon War, and in light of the threats that Israel faces from war and massive disasters.

The report that will be released later today investigated to see if the systems failures that were observed in the wake of the war had been corrected. The previous report revealed a lack of resources at the disposal of the national commander of firefighting services and the absence of a missions team that can allocate forces.

It is thought that in the event of an emergency, the firefighting services will not be able to deal with many events simultaneously, to the point that a systems collapse is possible. It is also likely that the report will deal with the organizational structure of the firefighting services, claiming that if the structure is not altered, the firefighting services will perform poorly in the event of an emergency.

It should be noted that although the previous government headed by Ehud Olmert decided in 2008 to establish a national firefighting and emergency aid authority, there has been no change in the organization structure of the services, and the Interior Ministry has not formulated a law that would implement these changes.

The comptroller has not yet decided if he himself will investigate in detail the Carmel fire incident. It would seem that he is waiting to see if the Committee for the Improvement of Government Services will recommend a national inquiry into the events of the fire in the wake of this report, which will also be presented to the committee.

It is expected that the committee will, in fact, support the establishment of a national inquiry committee. Although the governing coalition has a majority of seats on the committee, there will be a majority of committee members that will support a government inquiry. Among those expected to support the move are Shas MK Amnon Cohen and Labor MK Raleb Majadele.

Kadima MKs refused to take a public position yesterday on the establishment of a national inquiry, but the Committee for Improvement of Government Services Chair Yoel Hasson is thought to enthusiastically support the establishment of an inquiry, in light of the findings of the comptroller report that will be released today. Kadima Chair Tzipi Livni will announce her position on the issue on Wednesady afternoon, concurrent with the release of the comptroller report.

It became known on Tuesday that Labor Chair and Defense Minister Ehud Barak opposes the establishment of a national inquiry.