Military’s fire safety procedures grossly lacking, comptroller says

Military’s fire safety procedures grossly lacking, comptroller says

02 November 2016

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Israel —  The Israel Defense Forces’ fire safety procedures are grossly lacking, to the point of placing soldiers’ life at risk, a new report by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira said Tuesday.

The audit found there is a significant gap between the investment necessary to meet fire safety issues and the insufficient budget the military has appropriated to this issue.

The IDF’s data, as included in the report, said that 1,321 fires occurred on military facilities between 2013 and 2015. The most serious fire, on the Ramon Airbase in southern Israel in July 2015, claimed the life of one Israeli Air Force cadet and left another cadet wounded.

Shapira stressed that fire hazards are a threat to military personnel in routine and wartime alike.

The audit further faulted two IDF munitions centers for “deficiencies that constitute serious fire safety risks … that may either cause fires or hinder putting them out.” Both centers were found to be lacking in fire hydrants, and one center has a plumbing problem that prevents running high water pressure devices, such as fire hoses.

The IAF, Northern Command, and military headquarters at Rabin Base in Tel Aviv were also faulted for not having updated, clear information about fire safety and prevention systems, especially pertaining to their underground facilities.

Shapira further noted that despite the fact military exercises often spark brush fires, which at times compromises parks and nature reserves, the GOC Army Headquarters does not keep a record of these fires, or investigate their cause.

Furthermore, while the IDF’s Logistics Directorate introduced a 1.7 billion shekel ($450 million) plan to streamline fire safety in the military, the deputy chief of staff decided to allocate only 200 million shekels ($53 million) to the issue over a five-year period.

A statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said: “The military welcomes the comptroller’s report and is currently studying the findings, from which the necessary conclusions will be drawn.

“The deputy chief of staff holds regular safety reviews. In August, a special evaluation sough to illustrate the military’s investment outline, both to improve fire safety infrastructure in military bases, as well as fire prevention.”

The military was looking into the findings of the faults found in the IAF, Northern Command, and Rabin Base, the statement said, adding that GOC Army Headquarters has, as per the report’s recommendation, formed a committee to investigate brush fires and ensure their prevention.

“Resources have been allocated for the military to purchase means of extinguishing brush fires, the relevant protocols have been updated, and high-risk areas were defined.

“Practical training in dealing with brush fires have been added [for soldiers], and the orders have been revised so to ban the use of live munitions during summertime [exercises] with aim of reducing the number of brush fires and the damage they cause,” the statement said.

Winters have started approaching the northern region of India that also includes Delhi-NCR along with Punjab and Haryana. Due to this, minimums have also started dropping in many parts of North India including Delhi and NCR. In fact, as per the temperatures recorded on October 15 and October 17, the minimums ofDelhi and NCR went down to 17°C.

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As per experts, an increase in the pollution level normally occurs during the winter months. However, there are a few reasons that could enhance the pollution level in Delhi and the adjoining areas. The very first reason that can be attributed to an increase in pollution level in the national capital is crop fires in the neighboring state ofHaryana andPunjab.

These two states lie in northwest proximity of Delhi and normal pattern of winds during this season is northwesterly. These winds drag the smoke and fine particles of the burnt crop and mix them with Delhi’s atmosphere. Moreover, the temperatures also start dipping, therefore, the air near the earth’s surface tends to condense leading to formation of haze.

Whenever the winds are light or calm, these air pollutants get mixed with the haze or mist and forms a blanket of smoke haze which remains suspended for few hours in the mornings. Thereafter, the haze disappears as the sun rises and temperatures increases during the day.


But as the winter progresses in the month of December and January, the duration of haze, mist or fog gets extended and these pollutants remain suspended in the atmosphere for longer duration of time. Other factors including the smoke emitting from vehicles and factories and dust from construction sites also add to the rising pollution levels.

Sometimes this situation can continue for day’s altogether. However, relief is expected only when a strong Western Disturbance gives rain over the region. It is then that these pollutants settle down for a few days.

Another criterion which reduces the pollution levels is the strong and moderate dry winds from northwest or west which carry away these pollution particles. In a nutshell, it can be said that in October, intensity and duration of pollution remain less though increases in November as winters sets in.

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