ROGERS, Ark. — A fire department in Northwest Arkansas is training firefighters from Saudi Arabia.
Out of all places in the world, firefighter Majed Al Anazi landed in Rogers.
“My company sent me here to learn a lot of things, like structure fires,” Al Anazi said.
Eight Saudis have been working alongside Rogers firefighters as part of an international fellowship program.
Rogers is the third city to host this program, behind San Diego and Oklahoma City.
These firefighters work for Saudi Aramco, a fire department in Saudi Arabia that services an oil company.
Captain Clint Bowen is a co-coordinator of the program, and says they go through boot camp and various training sessions for six months.
“We’re actually one of the two smallest departments that had them so far, but Rogers is a class one city, dually accredited, so it has a lot to offer as far as the training they have in place,” Bowen said. “We’re getting the guys that want to be the best, so you’re getting the cream of their crop and they are coming over here and they’re learning as much as they can, they’re trying to impress us too.”
When that time is up, these firefighters go back home and present on a topic of their choice.
“My capstone subject is about the fire culture, the difference between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” Al Anazi said.
And despite the cultural differences, Bowen says the camaraderie is as strong as ever.
“They come over here, they have a lot of the same sense of humor, they have the same love for the job, they want to do very good. They are not happy with sub-par performance, or even just average, they want to do really good,” Bowen said.