Catching the firefighting bug

The death of 16-year-old Elad Rivan in the Carmel Forest fire last week has put the Fire Scouts on the map, piquing the interest of teenagers around the country in what had previously been a relatively unknown organization of volunteer firefighters. In the wake of Rivan’s tragic death, which occurred as he participated in the effort to rescue those trapped in the prison service bus that went up in flames, the Fire Scouts forum on the Israel Fire and Rescue Services website ( ) was inundated with requests from teenagers to join, prompting forum manager Shlomi Sa’adon, to post the following statement on Shabbat: “I see that the whole nation would like to volunteer, and I want to tell you that it’s very heartwarming. But you have to understand. It’s not that the fire services don’t want you, but a volunteer has to take a basic course. If you think we will send you into an inferno like this without prior training, you are wrong. This is not some Lag Ba’omer bonfire. This is real fire, which kills, burns, scorches and consumes everything in its path, so we’re sorry.”

The Fire Scouts was founded in 1959 as a volunteer group for lsraeli teenagers and is currently integrated into the community service projects offered at the country’s high schools. According to the fire services website, the scouts are an auxiliary firefighting force, but they do not operate on the front lines. They also pitch in on holidays when there is a high likelihood of fires, like Independence Day, with its abundance of barbecues and fireworks, and Lag Ba’omer, which is celebrated with bonfires.
Haifa Fire Scouts

There are about 350 Fire Scouts throughout the country. Each is required to do at least one five-hour shift a week at a fire station. Upon admission to the organization, they take a basic three-day course, and about eight or nine months later, a more advanced course. Rivan was supposed to have been an instructor in an advanced course this week.