'This is a real honor': Firefighters from Saudi Arabia coming to MB for training

The Sun News file photo
The Sun News file photo

Firefighters from Saudi Arabia are headed to the beach.

During a Myrtle Beach City Council meeting Tuesday morning, Deputy Fire Chief Tom Gwyer announced the department's acceptance by the International Fire Chiefs Associations into the International Fellowship Program.

This acceptance allows the Myrtle Beach Fire Department to host eight firefighters from the Saudi ARAMCO Fire Protection Department, beginning July 9.

"The program has been a huge success all around the country and we expect the same here in Myrtle Beach," Gwyer said. "We're very excited about it. We've already spoken to all our personnel and they're all on board and excited for the opportunity."

The firefighters will come over under a J-1 visa status, and will be spread out in stations around Myrtle Beach, working both night shift and day shift.

At the end of their program Gwyer said they will hold a graduation.

The program began in 2015 "as part of an educational endeavor to teach the primarily Industrial Firefighting Saudi ARAMCO Fire Protection Department how to fight residential fires as their community are growing and adding more and more residential complexes at their facilities," a press release from the department states.

While in Myrtle Beach, the firefighters will start with a three week training class and will shadow local crews as an extra firefighter for six months.

"The firefighters that were chosen to come over are highly educated and experienced firefighters in the Saudi ARAMCO Fire Protection Department, and will be shadowing MBFD crews as an extra firefighter, but will not engage in any medical treatment due to their level of training and J-1 visa status," the release reads.

Other fire departments across the country have participated in the program including the Oklahoma City Fire Department, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Prince George County Fire/EMS.

"This is a real honor for our fire department," Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen said.