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Firefighters to get anti-terror training in Israel

(L-R) Stuart Mellan, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona; Capt. Mark Lytle, Green Valley Fire District; Capt. Rich Johnson, Tucson Fire Department; Lt. Thomas Tucker, Tucson Airport Fire District; Mike McKendrick, chairman, Greater Tucson Fire Foundation; Capt. Kyle Canty, Northwest Fire District; and Battalion Chief Kelly McCoy, Northwest Fire District, outside the JFSA office (Phyllis Braun/AJP)

(L-R) Stuart Mellan, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona; Capt. Mark Lytle, Green Valley Fire District; Capt. Rich Johnson, Tucson Fire Department; Lt. Thomas Tucker, Tucson Airport Fire District; Mike McKendrick, chairman, Greater Tucson Fire Foundation; Capt. Kyle Canty, Northwest Fire District; and Battalion Chief Kelly McCoy, Northwest Fire District, outside the JFSA office (Phyllis Braun/AJP)

The Greater Tucson Fire Foundation has announced Firefighters Without Borders, a two-week mission that will send local Arizona firefighters to Israel in October to learn from their Israeli counterparts.

The firefighters will travel as private citizens, but their resumes reflect expertise with nearly a dozen local fire departments and districts. They will be hosted by Israeli fire service personnel throughout the country, including in Tel Aviv, the Gaza border region, Haifa and Jerusalem.

Israeli firefighters not only respond to incidents local communities face on a daily basis, but are also trained to respond to regional conflicts or terrorist activities.

“This is not a diplomatic delegation — it is a fact-finding mission,” says Golder Ranch Fire District Chief Randy Karrer, who is also a foundation trustee. “Israeli first responders are internationally recognized and respected for their knowledge and techniques that protect their civilian population. These firefighters want to learn how they might better serve our own community, by gaining first hand, real-world knowledge from their professional counterparts.

“For years we thought that terrorist-type events would never happen in the quiet Old Pueblo — but the events of Jan. 8, [2011] changed that perspective,” he added. “Tucson has many high-profile events that could be targeted, much like the Boston Marathon incident, and we must ensure our first responders preplan the event and are astute to the latest most effective procedures.”

Airfare, ground security and logistics will cost approximately $5,000 per person. The fire foundation, a nonprofit organization, has raised $30,000 but still needs $5,000 to reach its goal. Donations may be sent to the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation, 300 S. Fire Central Place, Tucson, AZ 85701.

Supportive funding for the Firefighters Without Borders mission has been provided by the Jewish Community Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona as part of their Compelling Needs Grants program, Temple Emanu-El and Congregation Anshei Israel.

For more information, contact Karrer at 334-0658 or rkarrer@grfdaz.gov.

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