Home » General » Iraq and U.S. Firefighters and Emergency Responders explore similarities and differences with State Department exchange program

Iraq and U.S. Firefighters and Emergency Responders explore similarities and differences with State Department exchange program

Seven fire department leaders from throughout the Republic of Iraq visited Arizona (pictured above), DC, Michigan, and New York fire departments to collaborate with fellow firefighters.

Sedona AZ – On December 3, 2019, a group of seven firefighters from different fire departments throughout the Republic of Iraq met with Emergency Responders from the Prescott Fire Department, Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority (CAFMA), the Yavapai County Emergency Manager and Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Simmons and Thurman, to discuss firefighting techniques, funding issues, and training concerns.

The U.S. State Department facilitated this exchange through the International Visitor Leadership Program. The U.S. Embassy in Iraq selected these seven leaders from Fire Departments throughout Iraq and arranged for them to spend three weeks traveling the United States, learning and sharing with fellow firefighters. The Iraqi leaders spent a week in DC, a week in Arizona, then Michigan, with a final New York destination before returning home.

Yavapai County Emergency Manager Ron Sauntman started the meeting by introducing the group of men to the fundamentals of how Emergency Management works in Yavapai County. Sauntman explained that Emergency Management is primarily a support service for a diverse group of frontline emergency response organizations that function within Yavapai County.

The U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program brought firefighters from Arizona and the Republic of Iraq together this week in the city of Prescott.

The city of Prescott Deputy Fire Chief Cory Moser began a discussion on how the city of Prescott’s Fire Department works in cooperation with fellow Fire Districts followed up by speaker CAFMA Chief Scott Freitag with specifics on how resources are shared and training facilities utilized.

Yavapai County Board of Supervisor Thomas Thurman concluded the conversation by explaining the role the Board of Supervisors plays in support of Emergency Management and the safety and security of Yavapai County as a whole.

After the presentation, a question and answer session took place, and several questions exploring the similarities and differences between fighting fires in Bagdad Arizona and Baghdad Iraq were discussed. One of the biggest differences that came to light was the number of staff working at each fire station.

In Arizona’s Yavapai County, it is not uncommon to have 6-8 men and women working one shift, while in Iraq 40-60 people will work one location during a shift. A question was posed by the Baghdad (Iraq) Airport Fire Chief, “What do you do if your entire crew is called out to a rural fire and another fire starts right next to your station?” The answer came from CAFMA Chief Freitag, “We get coverage from other stations, but that does sometimes mean a delay in getting to the second fire.”

Chief Freitag went on to explain the “Reliability Ratio” or how often an engine is at its base location when called out to a fire; an acceptable percentage is 80% or higher. When the “reliability ratio” number falls below the acceptable percentage, the need for additional resources is indicated.

Firefighting techniques and emergency resource management highlighted exchanges during the Arizona Q&A session.

The Iraqi firefighters hold a variety of positions, including the Fire Chief for the city of Baghdad as well as the Fire Chief for the Baghdad Airport. Each man had an opportunity to both ask and answer questions during the discussion utilizing translators provided by the State Department.

After the question and answer time, the men went outside to examine the equipment that had been brought to the meeting and showed special interest in the hazmat apparatus. Before the Iraq firefighters and first responders went their way, they all stood in front of the hazmat truck for several group photos, expressed thanks for the time and the resources shared, and promised to stay in touch.

It is admirable and honorable what global firefighters and first responders do under the best and worst of circumstances. All owe a debt of gratitude to those who go far beyond protocols and procedures to protect the well-being of the many.


  1. Marceline says:

    Today was Pearl Harbor Day and how many of you took time to thank a veteran or remember your fathers and grandfathers and uncles and brothers and family killed in that war? I ask to make you realize that you owe the past for your present.

  2. Ed Smith, Parker says:

    Exchange program sharing across the board’s good for towns involved but should stay in private sectors to avoid political interferences. Parker AZ subscriber

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