The Haifa fire fighters’ Command Station is responsible to answer calls from central Israel, Netanya to the northern point, Rosh Hanikra, on the Lebanon border.
The Haifa fire fighters are somewhat different from their other brothers serving elsewhere. They are responsible for 1.5 million citizens and each one of them is trained to respond to a wide scope of emergency calls and threats.
Those threats include fire, sea port, airport, tunnels, heavy and petro chemical industries, railway, dense forest on the Carmel Mountain and tall buildings. With all that, the Haifa fire fighters feel as if they are the stepson or foster son of the national organization.
Haifa command station has 9 substations. The key word is time, the crucial factor in sometimes life and death. The faster the fire fighters can get to the scene, the faster the issue can be resolved.
My visit to the station gave me a sense there is community and there is a sense of commitment. With their own lean funds, the Haifa fire fighters built a small but magnificent synagogue where the observant can pray. From their own pocket money they also built their elaborate gym room. But what I sensed the most is pride in what they do.
Though the government takes care of the large expenses, funds are always scarce and each additional shekel is measured wisely where it should be spent. And that is where donations are most welcome.
With the country being small and congested, the use of large fire vehicles are redundant at most times. Haifa fire fighters are in an immediate need to purchase fully equipped ATVs at approximately $25,000 each. The ATVs will take a crew to where no car, small or large, could go.
Haifa fire fighters also seek to build a visitor’s center at the approximated $60,000 cost. Over the years they collected exhibit worthy items of expired equipment which they would love to put into a permanent exhibition hall, as part of the visitor’s center to be built at the command station in order to be able to professionally and under hospitality conditions welcome the many visitors they receive as well as encourage schools to visit for education purposes.
What impressed me the most and deeply touched my heart was my meeting with the fire fighters’ scouts group. From age 15, each year, a fire fighter scout serves 60 hours and beyond, working with the fire fighters and learns personal responsibility and commitment, to connect with and get to know the community and to give of himself or herself to the country.
While positioned in the external circle in order to endanger them the least, they actively and logistically help the crews while on call as well as perform chores at the stations. As a result, the fire fighters scouts experience social connectivity, form unity and develop national affiliation. They contribute to the community while performing their pre-military national service.
I made a promise to Uri Chobotaro, the Haifa station spokesman and his fire fighters colleagues, several of whom I met, to make an effort to raise awareness and perhaps even help raise the funds needed. If you, the reader, would like to help, please contact me through this site and together we will put a huge smile on each and every Haifa fire fighter’s face and accomplish a true mitzvah – a good deed.