Monday, September 04, 2017 3:47 PM
A gift from the Czech Republic to KKL-JNF's firefighters.
A new fire truck was presented to KKL-JNF by the government of the Czech Republic at a festive ceremony that took place in Yatir Forest in Israel’s south on August 24. Participants in the ceremony included ministers from the Czech government, directors of the Czech fire department and top KKL-JNF officials from Israel and the Czech Republic.
Michael Pacovsky, President of KKL Czech Republic, said that the idea to donate a fire truck came up in November 2016, when Israel was fighting a wave of forest fires throughout the country caused by arson and hot, dry weather. “Many forests were damaged, and that was the moment we asked ourselves how we could help,” Pacovsky related. “We did this not only for the state of Israel and the Jewish people, but because all human beings need the oxygen that trees provide us. Fires don’t distinguish between people of different religions. We support Israel in its struggle against desertification, because it’s a small country that proves that everything is possible.”
Mr. Milan Chovanec, the Czech Republic Minister of the Interior, emphasized his support of Israel in his remarks: “Your country is fighting terrorism, something they forgot was possible in Europe. We should learn how to do it from you. If something like this happens again in Israel’s forests, I hope that the new fire truck will help extinguish the flames.”
KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar noted the unique importance of the gift from the Czech Republic: “This is a significant addition to our firefighting network, which will help our ability to cope with fires.” The ceremony took place at the Czech Republic Forest - a planted forest that marks the friendship between the two countries - and Atar mentioned the excellent ties between Israel and the Czech Republic over the years: “We want to thank the Czech government, not only for the fire truck, but primarily for standing by the state of Israel’s side.”
Taking part in the ceremony were the Czech Republic Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Ms. Michaela Marksová ; the Director General of Fire Rescue of the Czech Republic Brig. General Drahoslav Ryba; the CEO of KKL Czech Republic, Zosa Vyoralova; and Radim Studeny and Milos Zvarik, representatives of Czech Republic car manufacturer Tatra, who built the fire truck.
The ceremony was emceed by KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson, who said: “We are very grateful for the wonderful gift of the Czech government.”
Participants got to see the new fire truck in action when its operators shot a powerful jet of water in the direction of the trees of the forest, which put out a faraway burning barrel with no difficulty whatsoever.
Ilan Gino, KKL-JNF Northern Region Security Officer, who is responsible for the fire trucks, said that the new truck is definitely a step forward in comparison to existing KKL-JNF equipment. The new fire truck can hold 5 cubic meters of water, 500 liters of foam extinguisher, boasts water cannons on its bumper and roof, and a pump with high and low pressure. The entire network is digitally controlled from the driver’s cabin. No less importantly, this is an excellent field vehicle that can traverse tough terrain, and can reach any corner of the forest when necessary.
“KKL-JNF’s job is to provide the first response to a forest fire, which is why it is so important for us that the fire trucks can go deep into the field and get as close to the center of the fire as possible and put it out before it spreads,” Gino explained. “KKL-JNF’s firefighters are the first to arrive at the scene of a fire and the last to leave after it has been extinguished.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, all the participants went together to plant a tree in the forest soil. When they were done, there was a tree standing proud and tall, protected by the new fire truck and KKL-JNF’s dedicated staff. Danny Atar bid a warm farewell to the guests and said: “We will be happy to continue deepening our cooperation and to share KKL-JNF’s expertise in the fields of afforestation, combating desertification and managing water resources.”