90% of firefighters and rescue workers rate the atmosphere in the Fire and Rescue Authority as negative, and 91% of them see senior management as influencing the atmosphere and organizational culture. This is according to a survey conducted by Geocartography, a private research institute, on behalf of the Israel Firefighters Union (IFFU) towards the end of outgoing commissioner Deddi Simchi’s term.

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The survey also found that 48% of firefighters do not see their future in the Authority. 41% of the respondents indicated that they were satisfied with the performance of station commanders, compared to only 12% who reported satisfaction with the performance of the senior management.

87% of those surveyed claimed that the conduct of senior management was not transparent and fair, and 86% indicated that it harmed their motivation to work. Regarding station commanders, 73% responded that their conduct was not transparent and fair and 69% that their conduct harmed motivation.

Respondents indicated that the perception of senior management in the fire department in the last five years has been belligerent and that senior managers who come from outside the fire department are not sufficiently knowledgeable about the organization’s conduct and therefore cannot provide a solution to employee needs.

Dissatisfaction with the functioning of human resources in the department increased by 68% amongst those surveyed, with 57% claiming that they are not satisfied with cordiality in the department, 63% expressing dissatisfaction with concern for department’s employees and 67% saying they were not satisfied with the degree to which human resources was willing to go out of their way in the interest of employees.

Most of the respondents (76%) testified that they were not satisfied with the way that the Fire Authority protects the rights of employees. These data join up with data recently produced by the authority’s human resources department, according to which in 2021, 137 firefighters resigned, compared with 71 in 2020.

The survey was conducted under the direction of Professor Avi Degani and Doctor Rina Degani via SMS messages sent to around 2,900 employees in the fire department, of whom 894 employees responded.

Commissioner Simchi will end his term in early March. His time as commissioner was characterized by unstable labor relations and an increase in labor disputes. Simchi, who came to the Fire Authority from the army, openly opposed unionization of the department workers and actively worked to reduce the right of to unionize, by promoting a legislative proposal to limit the right of firefighters to strike among other things. 

Fire Chief Eyal Caspi, commander of the Central District Fire Brigade, will replace Simchi as Fire and Rescue Commissioner. His appointment was approved last Sunday by the government. Caspi, the first commissioner to be appointed from within the fire department, is a respected firefighter with over 35 years of experience in the fire department.

The IFFU welcomed the appointment yesterday, stating: “We are sure that Eyal, who grew up as a firefighter, will be aware of the challenges and needs of the workers in the department. As a trade union, we will march hand in hand to advance this department forward with all our strength and at the same time protect the interests of the workers and firefighters who fight with their bodies and souls – both literally and metaphorically – to protect our homes.”

The union emphasized that in light of the bleak image that emerged from the survey and the reality on the ground, there is complex and difficult work ahead for the incoming commissioner, but added that this is an opportunity to formulate a clear work plan for the coming years, in cooperation between management and the labor union.

This article was translated from Hebrew by Jonathan Epstein.