Accountant General: Best firefighting equipment wouldn't have helped

Shuki Oren: "Our insistence on the reform of the Fire and Rescue Services is correct.

"The most sophisticated firefighting equipment in the world wouldnt have made a difference," Accountant General Shuki Oren told "Globes" in an interview in response to the criticism leveled at the Ministry of Finance over its responsibility for the Carmel fire. "Our insistence on the reform of the Fire and Rescue Services is correct Without the Finance Ministry, there would be no reforms in Israel," he added.

Oren accuses local authorities of torpedoing the reform of the Fire and Rescue Services. "The heads of local authorities want to perpetuate the current situation because its a source of money and patronage. The last two interior ministers talked about establishing a national firefighting authority, but neither of them submitted an actual plan to the cabinet, apparently due to lobbying by local authorities," he said.

Oren said that the government would not compensate for all the damage caused by the fire. "If a rich artist living in Tel Aviv's Akirov Towers has uninsured artwork in his studio in Ein Hod, what should the government do?," he asked rhetorically.

Local authorities in the Carmel area estimate the fire damage at NIS 184 million: NIS 147.4 million in the jurisdiction of the Hof Hacarmel Local Authority; NIS 23.5 million in Isifiya; NIS 5 million in Haifa; NIS 5.2 million in Tirat Hacarmel; and NIS 3.2 million in Daliyat Hacarmel. 74 homes were totally destroyed and 173 were partly damaged. 219 people are homeless and currently residing in hotels.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on December 12, 2010

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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