Fire station donated by Ponte Vedra couple saving lives in Israel


A fire station in Israel donated by a Ponte Vedra Beach couple proved its worth as fires raged in the country’s north in November.

The station was the donation of Penny and Stephen Rosen, previously of Brooklyn Heights, New York. It is located in the northern Jewish-Arab city of Ma’alot Tarshiha.

Twenty-six fire crews recently responded to a large-scale brushfire in the Hacienda Forest while more than 100 houses were evacuated.

The Rosens donated the state-of-the-art fire station through Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) in memory of their late son, Adam, as part of their ongoing philanthropic support for the land and people of Israel. They were on hand in 2019 for the station’s dedication.

“We are saddened to hear of another fire in the Hacienda Forest,” said Penny Rosen, who is a JNF-USA Fire and Rescue Task Force co-chair. “However, we are also proud that the fire and rescue station that my husband, Stephen, and I built in our beloved son Adam's memory was in place to respond. These devastating fires are a stark reminder as to why we need to keep building and helping equip as many areas in Israel as possible with modern firefighting equipment.”

Alon Mazar, spokesperson for Israel’s Fire and Rescue Authority, added that despite popular belief, summer is not necessarily the peak time for fires in his country.

“Spring and fall are in fact the most dangerous times of year for the rapid spread of fires,” Mazar said. “For example, in 2010 we had the Carmel disaster, and again in 2016, the Carmel region had another major fire. Then, in 2019 we had large fires in Mevo Modiin. All three events that were not in the summer – May, November and December. In our case, they are the most dangerous seasons that are characterized by winds coming in from the east – strong winds that do not come from the sea. They are eastern winds from the interior of the country and are characterized as dry and strong. It is enough to turn a small fire into a major catastrophic event.”

Israel’s Fire and Rescue Authority along with volunteer firefighters are already getting ready for the summer months.

“We are updating our plans and preparedness in cooperation with the government and relevant authorities,” said Head of Security for Israel’s Eshkol Region Ilan Isaacson. “And thanks to Jewish National Fund-USA, we have the equipment that we need to reduce our response time to fires as well as the tools to effectively fight fires.”

Through its Fire and Rescue Task Force, JNF-USA has been a primary partner to the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority, outfitting Israel’s firefighters with state-of-the-art lifesaving equipment such as oxygen tanks, fire-retardant suits, firefighting vehicles and fire station facilities.

The organization has also invested in enhancing and rebuilding Israel’s volunteer fire fighter program, which trains and provides safety equipment and gear to volunteers who serve as the first line of defense in the remote communities of northern and southern Israel that are difficult for authorities to reach in times of emergency.