By Angela Musallam

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — For the first time, Sac Metro firefighters are training their international counterparts here in Sacramento.

It’s part of a program led by the International Association of Fire Chiefs to expose firefighters around the world to situations which they may not be fully trained.

A group of seven firefighters from Saudi Arabia is here after their company learned Sac Metro Fire is one of the busiest fire districts in the country.

“It’s totally different here,” said Hassan Hajjaji.

The 26-year-old is starting his first week of training with Sac Metro Fire. Back in Saudi Arabia, Hajjaji usually responds to industrial calls involving oil and gas leaks, but he’s not getting called out of the fire station every day.

“We have a low volume of calls,” Hajjaji said.

That’s why oil company Saudi Aramco sent him and six other firefighters to Sacramento so that they can get more training in one of the nation’s busiest fire districts.

“They’re going to respond to every single call that apparatus responds to from medical aids, vehicle accidents structural fires, industrial emergencies,” said Sac Metro Fire Capt. Chris Vestal.

The goal of the program is to make these firefighters more confident working incidents they’re not used to getting calls for, in case of an emergency.

Vestal says the program isn’t just benefitting Saudi Aramco.

“We think we do things very well, but a lot of the opinion we get is from people who are trained like ourselves, so we also get an outside perspective and perhaps an evaluation from international firefighters around the world,” Vestal added.

Although Hajjaji just started training, he says he’s learned a lot of valuable lessons being at Station 53, one of the busiest stations in Sacramento County.

“Because it’s busy, I get more confident,” Hajjaji says.

It’s a win-win for Sac Metro firefighters, who are sharpening their skill-set as they help firefighters around the globe up their firefighting game.

“It gives all of us a chance to look at things a different way when we respond to a call,” Vestal said.

The group of Saudi firefighters will train in Sacramento until June and then return home to apply what they learned from Sac Metro firefighters.


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