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Playing with fire Israel today


Dedi Simchi, Fire and Rescue Commissioner, closes a particularly noisy term • A day with someone who grew up in the Golan Heights and reached the rank of brigadier general, reveals that he is not moved by the weekly demonstrations held in front of his house: I made this place professional "• Reveals the image of the new firefighter:" No more a small belly, but an Iron Man and a good salary "• And tells about the budget battle:" Iran? All the Qassams that have fallen here over the years have not caused the same damage as the fires. "

Dedi Simchi will resign in March from his position as Commissioner of Firefighting and Rescue of the State of Israel. Ostensibly, this is another summary of a senior public figure's term, which sums up the good things, and the less good things. Simchi, 57, defines the role he will soon leave after about five years "as the role of his life." In practice, one can speak of his term as "the battle of his life."

A term characterized, on the one hand, by progress and a desire to move the Israeli fire brigade one step further, towards true professionalism, while worrying about additional budgets and an almost desperate attempt to position the image of the firefighter and become a "firefighter"; And on the other hand, in the struggles against his own workers' committee, which have degenerated into low places even in terms of intra-organizational and Histadrut struggles.

Simchi grew up in Moshav Hoodia in the south of the country, and after his father served in the Golani he had no doubt where he would go: he served five years in the Golani, in the Golani Division and in command of a company in the brigade.

During the riots in the Western Wall tunnel, he served as deputy commander of the Carob Battalion, whose soldiers were killed near the tomb of Yosef.

In 1996, he was appointed commander of the battalion, later serving as commander of the "Adam" brigade, and also serving as an AGM officer of the Gaza Division.

After being promoted to the rank of colonel, he served as commander of the Arava Brigade, and then commanded the Southern District of the Home Front Command.

In 2008 he was appointed commander of the 16th IDF, and during Operation Cast Lead he was also appointed commander of the Sderot sub-district and the Gaza Envelope

. The IDF for him is a "State of the Art", he is a "commander", with a military speech, and he sees the fire brigade "just like the Golani. Not the ones who keep the quiet borders, but just like in Syria and Lebanon."

His countless clashes with his staff committee can be understood, because these are worlds that happened to meet at the same workplace: "I came and took the cream, so they demonstrated in front of my house, in front of the children's school, chased me and cursed me," he says with a smile.

"But I was lying in Saluki, so demonstrations in front of the house would scare me? They said I was burning the fire because I wanted to change things. But what was here before I arrived was 'balance of horror', everyone knew things about each other so they kept each other safe. I hope so. "That we have been able to move in the last five years will not go back. We have changed standards. I came professionally, without combos, I put everything out to tender and made this place professional - despite all the civil wars."

A change is required.

The Carmel Disaster, 2010,

Messi's parable

Upon his retirement, several officers from inside and outside the fire department are now running for the position of Fire and Rescue Commissioner.

One of them is the head of the Home Front Command, Brigadier General Itzik Bar.

The committee claims that before he leaves, Simchi will continue to push more and more people on his behalf who never came from the fire department and did not grow in the organization.

Can you understand the anger at someone who came from outside the organization, and now will probably be replaced by another person, also from outside the organization?

The inner message to firefighters is that they really have nowhere to go.

"There are great candidates who grew up in the organization, and I said their names to whoever should. But wait, I have to apologize for bringing me in from outside to do my job? With all modesty, when Messi turned Barcelona into an empire, did anyone care that he was not Spanish and came from Argentina? "If the goal is to improve the organization, and I succeeded, then does it matter where I came from?"

Yes, the attitude is clear.

Earlier this week Simchi met again with his workers 'committee on their regular date in the Labor Court, when this time the issue was the firefighters' dress code.

The court asked the parties to discuss the matter in the coming month, and the chairman of the workers' committee, Avi Ankuri, asked his firefighters "not to refer to the established dress code".

But Simchi refuses to get excited: "I want them to go in uniform with the Israeli flag, with the fire symbol.

"I changed our name to 'Fire and Rescue' to suit the modern age, and I want my firefighters to be proud and look great in uniform. The image firefighters have is the little belly, the t-shirt over their pants. The new generation of these young firefighters are people from the military, People who do 'Iron Man'. Firefighting has become a sexy profession with a good salary, it will not be possible to turn it back.

"Public service is perceived by many as inefficient, outdated and archaic. My personal experience proves that it is possible to lead a revolution, instill values ​​and organizational excellence and bring results."

"Arson is the new terror"

The tragic fire in Carmel about 11 years ago changed the Israeli fire brigade forever. If until then Israel was accustomed to terrorist incidents, we were suddenly exposed to firefighters' activities. Fires and arson have become a matter of routine. It was clear that change was needed here, and as always in our country, disaster was needed to speed things up: from the terminology that made Israeli firefighters "firefighters" to the budgets and status of firefighters in the public hierarchy. However, Simchi claims that he encounters an organization that does not receive adequate budgets some of the time and sufficient appreciation from the decision makers most of the time.

But Israel is a military state, no matter how much you fight for budgets, in the end they are soldiers, and you, with all due respect, are just firefighters.

"I keep hearing Iran, the Syrians about fences, Hezbollah, Hamas. Our last big war as a country was on Yom Kippur. Since then there has been no big war, there are mostly operations and no wars. On the other hand, I deal with arson all the time, which is terrorism The new one. All the Qassams that have fallen here over 19 years have not caused the same damage as the fires

. : "The damage caused by one fire in 2019 has not been able to inflict on all Arab armies in the 74 years of the state's existence.

The locality Mevo Modiim was completely wiped out within 30 minutes.

The damage is enormous and unprecedented, even before the climate crisis. "

Like a battlefield.

Fire in the Jerusalem Mountains, 2017, Photo: Oren Ben Hakon

Exits or firefighters?

At the Fire College in Rishon Lezion, where we meet, Simchi walks around like a peacock alongside his young and older trainees.

Between the grueling fitness training, the new fire engines and the motorcycles that were buried in the warehouse until he came to use them, we get together into the advanced simulator that stands in place.

"Well, let's get dressed and go into the fire with me," Simchi tells me, catching me by surprise: Since the days of high school fire scouts, I never thought I would find myself wearing a mask and putting out a fire.

While changing clothes for a suit that costs thousands of shekels and absorbs toxins, I remember that once firefighters would come in to put out fires with equipment that washes at home, and sometimes it also does not: "I do not want my firefighters to walk around with toxins on their clothes.

"Firefighters finish service with medical damage, with mental damage. In my first week in the job a firefighter committed suicide. In the end these firefighters deal with everyday traumas, and no one paid attention to it. We are told that soldiers face difficult sights, but in the end you can be a soldier "In Golani and transfer service for three years and you did not have a single encounter. They have an encounter every day. Every day they are in front of difficult mirrors, and no one thought they deserved the proper mental care."

Simchi goes down to all the details and conducts, you have already managed to understand, in orders.

The fire engines are equipped with cameras that camera out ("The committee also objected to this, they did not want us to see what they do every minute"), and the list of equipment that was once made manually he replaced in the app: "Only those who came from outside could know what options were out there. .

"The damage is enormous even before the climate crisis."

Fire in Moshav Shoresh, Photo: Oren Ben Hakon

As we walk back to his office, it's easy to see the workers around him moving like soldiers for all intents and purposes.

They call him the stand-up comedian, and he cuts into speech: "Take," "Bring," "Go."

He sees that I am smiling and commands me too: "I could come here and pass a term in turn. First classes, suits, ride my Harley-Davidson, pass the time and go out to my citizens to the CEO of some company.

Everyone said that my quarrels with the committee were all from 'ego', but I showed everyone who wanted to see that the committee has always fought all the extras.

It's not personal against me, that's how it was before me and probably will be after me as well. "

He then pulls out of the back room all the shirts printed against him by his firefighters, and smiles: "I got used to living with the demonstrations, and my neighbors, who came every Friday to demonstrate in front of the house, would come in with coffee and cake and support me. They realized I came to serve the country "Not myself."

The last fire last summer in the corridor leading to Jerusalem was a successful finishing chord for you.

Before he chooses to answer, he plays me recordings of the whole incident, which were uploaded to a minute-by-minute review of what happened last summer: "I told the pilots what to do, I commanded the incident because I was there in the past. For me, I knew exactly what to do. The fires, the route of the area, it's all like a battlefield, and whoever was there - knows how to control everything better.

"It does not matter if it is a fire or a military battle. In the end we succeeded in the event in the most successful way, because I prefer areas to be burned and houses not burned with people inside. Understand that there are things only firefighters can do. A soldier knows how to put out a fire? A policeman? "It's just us, and I hope the decision makers understand that and will not forget the daily work of the people here. I think I have been able to bring about that change."

You are trying to attract young guys, but in an age of exits, and alternatively a rewarding military career with a budgetary pension, there is a good chance that in 20 years the State of Israel will not have firefighters.

"You touched on the question of the million dollars. This is really a problem that also has to do with information, of course, but I want to tell you that inside I do not believe this will be the case. In the end you will have tens of thousands of programmers here, and how many firefighters will you have? Cobblers?

”The few who will be will make a lot of money because there will be a demand, and they will be professionals with exclusive ability. Same thing with firefighters. Once there is a drop in fundraising the state will flow funds and increase awareness, and everyone will want to come here. And then it will go down again and look for other professions. This is how this parabola works. Already today the salary of a firefighter is a respectable salary with a horizon and the possibility of expanding horizons at the intellectual level. Has anyone before me thought of investing in them on an intellectual level as well? "

What will be the next step for you?

Will you continue to the civilian market or rather to the next public position?

You look like a soldier in your soul.

"My success story is the story of the second Israel and its integration into the Zionist enterprise and the state leadership. I was born in Moshav Hoodia to a family of Yemeni immigrant farmers. I have never had guidelines and shortcuts. My goal is to continue running large organizations. I think the revolution I made here speaks for itself." 

Were we wrong?


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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2022-01-14

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