WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansans are making a footprint around the globe. This year marks a 20-year partnership between the Kansas National Guard and Armenia.

As a part of the partnership, the Kansas Forest Service has gone to Armenia to train firefighters three different times since 2018.

“Basically, we take our national curriculum and translate it, then use that as kind of our template to follow so that we can at least just have a guide to start conversations with,” Rodney Redinger with the Kansas Forest Service said. “It’s kind of helping to develop and build their national resource pool. They’ve just never been formally trained to any sort of standard, and so that’s kind of part of that partnership is helping them learn the lessons that we learned, not just in Kansas, but also across the country.”

Redinger is the assistant fire management officer of operations and training for the Kansas Forest Service. He says in 2016 and 2017, there were many wildland fires in Armenia, and they needed help.

“They have a lot of experienced firefighters, but it’s primarily focused on city firefighting. And so, you know, we talked to them about the similarities between fire behavior, we talked to them about the differences between the building fires versus wildland fires,” Redinger said.

Not only do they train Armenians, but they learn from them as well.

“We can bring some of that stuff back and see how it applies or doesn’t in Kansas, and kind of the same way over there is that we tell them what we do in terms of tactics, incident management, we talk a little bit about some leadership stuff.”

It gives them a fresh perspective.

“We get set in our ways a lot,” Redinger said. “There’s always a different perspective. There’s always a different way to look at things.”

He says when the Soviet Union collapsed, many countries partnered with American states.

“The culture of Armenia is very similar to the culture of Kansas,” Redinger said. “There’s a lot of farming, a lot of small towns, not a huge population.”

He says the weather is similar between the two places.

Redinger says one of the biggest takeaways from this year was training more on the things that happen more often.

“We have to talk about some of the potential things that we could face, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be the focus of our of our training.”

Overall the experience was humbling for Redinger.

“That camaraderie, even from the middle of Kansas to the middle of Armenia, the fire stuff, we’re all kind of in the same boat, Redinger said. “We’re all trying to accomplish the same thing, and at the end of the day, we’re all trying to go home to our families.”

Jason Hartman is a Kansas State Forester and pointed out how they taught the Armenians about being proactive.

“A perspective they hadn’t got into their approach to wildland fire yet that we tried to bring to them was more of the planning ahead, looking at the weather, looking at what resources, what people you had available that day, and kind of trying to plan rather than just react,” Hartman said.

Hartman admired the way the Armenians utilized resources.

“They were really good with making the best use of what they had available,” Hartman said. “They’ve done some very innovative things with hand tools.”