Meet the Firefighters of the IAF Meet the Firefighters of the IAF Meet the Firefighters of the IAF As planks of wood pile up around Israeli homes in preparation for Lag BaOmer bonfires, there are people making sure everyone stays safe. IAF firefighters tell us a bit about fire and flying: “La BaOmer is the firefighters’ holiday”

Lilach Gonen

In honor of Lag BaOmer, IAF firefighters tell us how they take precautions and keep us all safe: Danger triples itself when considering flames bursting in or near aircrafts. To be prepared for these kinds of situations, the IAF Firefighting Unit was established. The firefighters’ job within the IAF is very unique. People who are recruited to the unit undergo a course in Ovda Airbase among others, where they receive extensive training in extinguishing fires in open fields and in specifically within IAF territory. “Every firefighter in our station has to be authorized on all aircrafts, to know how to turn off the engine in the time of need, to be familiar with the dangerous areas around the aircraft and to have the ability to open the aircraft canopy in order to rescue other crew members”, explains Warrant Officer Oren Ben Shitrit, Commander of the Firefighting Stations in Hatzerim Airbase.

IAF firefighters don’t only deal with aviation-related firefighting, and participate in any mission when needed. When the Mount Carmel Fire occurred, firefighters from all airbases were recruited to assist with the national tragedy. “The most challenging part of this job is dealing with saving lives, nothing compares to that. A soldier knows that he is facing a life and death situation.