Israel / USA FORT WORTH–A group of Fort Worth firefighters are safely back in North Texas after spending close to a week fighting fires in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel.
Firefighters Jimmy Hayward and Greg Clark returned just a few days ago.
The men are part of a growing volunteer effort called Emergency Volunteers Project, which helps provide emergency care to Israel during crisis situations. “It’s a great group and we were just happy to go provide help,” says Hayward.
Israel has been dealing with massive wild land fires.
Hayward, Clark and about a dozen other firefighters from Texas arrived just after Thanksgiving to provide help and relief, so Israeli men and women could finally get some rest.
“They’d been working 24 hours around the clock, no breaks. They were feeding them in the field, resting when they could,” says Clark.
Although the firefighting techniques utilized in Israel are very similar to how fires are fought here, the men did notice some immediate differences to being in the Middle East.
“We had IDF [Israeli Defense Force] soldiers stationed at our stations. We had IDF special forces there with us. A lot of the fire officers carry,” said Hayward.
The men used personal vacation time for the effort.
Hundreds of other firefighters from across the globe did the same.
“There were guys from Egypt, Italy, France. Guys from Cypress were at my station,” said Hayward. “Russia and Ukraine, too.”
He says despite political differences between some of the countries, everyone in Israel was committed toward a singular goal of helping that country’s 1,400 firefighters.
“They can get stretched then,” said Hayward.
By comparison, Fort Worth alone has close to 1,000 firefighters.
The men are hopeful that some of their other colleagues in Fort Worth consider volunteering their time in the future.