Israel — Israel’s first firefighting squadron is getting off the ground, four months after the huge Carmel fire, which killed 44 people and exposed the serious flaws in Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services. Weather conditions in Europe permitting, the first three firefighting planes will land at Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov Airport today, which will be part of the new squadron.
The squadron will be named for Elad Riven, a teenage Fire Scout volunteer who was killed in the Carmel Fire. Four more planes are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks.
The squadron will use Air Tractor AT 802 planes, which carry three tons of water and fire fighting chemicals. Two of the seven the squadron’s planes can fill their tanks in flight over the Mediterranean or the Kinneret.
Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) and Chim Nir Flight Services Ltd. purchased the planes, after submitting a joint bid in the Ministry of Defense tenders.
The Israel Air Force will have operational responsibility for the firefighting squadron. Most of the planes will be based at the Megiddo airfield, partly because of its proximity to fire hazard areas.