New Fire Truck Donated by Friends of KKL-JNF in Switzerland to Help Prevent Forest Fires

Thursday, June 14, 2012 4:28 PM

Rene and Susie Braginsky of Zurich & Tel-Aviv donate a new fire truck to KKL-JNF.

"I would like to welcome René and Susanne Braginsky of Zurich / Tel-Aviv, along with the other members of the KKL-JNF Switzerland mission, to the Ofer Forest Donor Appreciation Site in the Carmel Mountains." Jariv Sultan, KKL-JNF emissary to Switzerland, was speaking at a ceremony that took place on Tuesday, June 12, in honor of the new fire truck that the Braginsky Family donated to KKL-JNF. "Although Switzerland is a relatively small country, with a population of about seven million people, including 20,000 Jews, it has the highest rate of per capita average donations to KKL-JNF. There has never been an instance of a project that was undertaken by friends of KKL-JNF in Switzerland that wasn't completed due to lack of funds. At this moment we are implementing projects worth millions of dollars in Israel”.

L-R: Michael Weinberger, Susie & Rene Braginsky, & Jariv Zultan. Photo: Tania Susskind

Donor recognition sign on truck.
Photo: Tania Susskind

"I grew up in Haifa, playing and camping at the 'Little Switzerland' area on the Carmel, not far from the original “Swiss Forest”. It seems perfectly appropriate that our friends from Switzerland support the rehabilitation of the Carmel Forest after the huge fire that destroyed large parts of the forest about a year and a half ago. Dear Susie, dear René, the new fire truck you have so generously donated – the first of 7 total new trucks, two of them donated by KKL-JNF friends from Switzerland - will help us prevent and fight fires like that one in the future."
Of course, the real star of the ceremony was the new Mercedes Unimog fire truck. Rami Zaritzky, the KKL-JNF forester responsible for purchasing fire fighting trucks and equipment, said that it can work for about 45 minutes without refilling: "It also has a 400 meter long hose and is operated by a crew of three," Rami explained. "I don't know if you know this, but this truck is used by the Swiss army. All the KKL-JNF firefighting personnel are looking forward to using it." The donors asked Rami about sources of water in the forest. "Whenever Mekorot, the Israeli water company, asks us for permission to lay a water pipeline through one of KKL-JNF's forests," Rami answered, "we always agree on the condition that they affix water hydrants at strategically located points along the water pipe. Other than that, in the case of a fire, we take water from wherever we can. We can fill up the tank in a few minutes, pending a high-pressure water pipe is available."

Rene and Susie Braginsky in front of donor recognition sign. Photo: Tania Susskind

After unveiling the honorary plaques on both the truck and also on one of the donor appreciation pillars, and after being presented with a certificate of appreciation, Mr. and Mrs. Braginsky were invited for a short drive in the fire truck, which they thoroughly enjoyed, especially when they saw the truck's water cannon in action, controlled from within the driver's cabin.
Jana Marcus, who emceed the ceremony, described the group: "This is a group of friends of KKL-JNF from Switzerland who are visiting Israel for ten days, some of them for the first time. They began their tour enjoying “Carmen” at Massada, and since then they have been all over the country, visiting various sites and seeing KKL-JNF projects firsthand. Yesterday they were at the Agamon Hula, where KKL-JNF Switzerland made an especially large contribution, and they had an opportunity to ring birds, including making a special wish for peace when one of the ringed birds was set free."

The star of the show. Photo: Tania Susskind

Christian Polin of Roseanne, Switzerland, said that this was his first visit to Israel: "I have been donating to KKL-JNF for a number of years, and I always receive proposals inviting me to join a mission to Israel. I felt that now was the time to finally come. Israel is the most fascinating country I have seen in my entire life. It gives me a sense of the Jewish people's newfound confidence, of their pride to be Jewish. I am involved professionally in finances, and I would recommend that anyone interested in excellent returns invest in Israel. I am convinced that in a number of years, this will be one of the richest countries in the world."
Getting back to the truck, KKL-JNF Regional Director Michael Weinberger explained that the new fire truck is a prototype. "It's the first of its kind. It has been specially designed to meet the specific needs of Israel's forests and forest access paths. If all goes well, we'll get the additional 6 trucks in a few months. Of course I hope we'll never have to use it, but unfortunately, that's highly unlikely. On behalf of all the KKL-JNF fire fighters, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Barginsky for their support of Carmel renewal and fire prevention."