Israeli official claims country has fewest fire fatalities in world
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Israeli official claims country has fewest fire fatalities in world

A view of part of the scorched area of the Carmel Forest, burned in the 2010 Carmel Fire, with an intact area of the forest in the background, Jan. 2013.  (Ben Sales)

A view of part of the scorched area of the Carmel Forest, burned in a 2010 fire, with an intact area of the forest in the background, January 2013. (Ben Sales)

(JTA) — Despite some high-profile cases of arson in the past year, Israel is the world’s safest country when it comes to fire-related deaths, its fire commissioner said.

In remarks to a Knesset committee Tuesday, Israeli Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Shahar Ayalon reported that the number of fire fatalities has been steadily declining since 2010, when over 70 Israelis were killed in fires, the Times of Israel reported.

Ayalon said there were nine deaths from fire in 2015.

“We are today the safest country in the world in terms of casualties from fire,” he said, crediting the hundreds of millions of dollars Israel has invested in firefighting services in the aftermath of the 2010 Carmel Forest fire.

“Our [average] response time was 14 minutes in 2010, and it went down to six minutes in 2015,” he said, according to the Times of Israel.

According to WorldLifeExpectancy.com, a website that uses World Health Organization data to rank death rates by country, Israel’s fire fatality rate in 2014 was 0.38 per 100,000 people, placing it 153rd out of 172 countries (the higher the rank number, the lower the rate of fire fatalities), or in the best 20. According to that ranking, the five countries with the best fire safety records are Luxembourg (0.1 per 100,000), Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy.

The five countries with the worst fire safety records were Nigeria (21.13), Burundi, Uganda, Mozambique and Somalia.

With a rate of 0.75 fire deaths per 100,000, the United States ranked considerably behind Israel, in 133rd.