The Archangel Sister City Program has been ongoing since 1988.  There have been many reciprocal visits and exchanges over those 28 years designed to promote friendship and understanding.  These exchanges have included teachers, students, government officials, photographers, and many other professionals.  Fire and Public Safety exchanges were added after the 25th anniversary of The Treaty of Friendly Ties.  On December 6, Chief Andrew Turcotte spoke to us about the recent fire and public safety visits.  
In January 2016, the greater Portland area hosted five professionals: fire/rescue, fire code specialist and communications specialist.  In November 2016, we sent seven fire/rescue personnel to Archangel, including Andy.  The groups have found that they have much common ground – similar challenges and a similar desire to learn and train.
During their time in Russia, the local team had an opportunity absorb some local culture as well as learn and exchange ideas on fire and safety techniques.  They toured (Fire) Station 17, which became their base while they were in Archangel. They learned that fire prevention education continues all year round, rather than during a single “fire prevention month” that we have in the US. They found that construction codes are centralized, which provides consistency across the country, but the codes need improvement.  In the US, we are subject to varying codes at the municipal, state and Federal levels.  The team participated in brainstorming sessions with their counterparts, saw an airport fire/rescue operation, and visited a pulp and paper plant where many employees are volunteer/on call firemen. Finally, they saw Northern Arctic Federal University which brings high school students to college where they can train in public safety careers.
On the cultural side, the team visited the Malye Korely Open Air Museum. This is a museum of traditional wooden architecture of the area, including churches, public buildings and homes.  Andrew also told us that dinners were very long – up to 3 hours!  There were multiple appetizers, drinks, soup, salad, main course, dessert - and more drinks.  They participated in the 75th anniversary celebration of Operation Dervish, commemorating the first of the WWII arctic convoys by the Western Allies that brought supplies to the port of Archangel to help Russia in the fight against Nazi Germany.  The team also enjoyed banya, described as a sauna on steroids
In attendance for Andy's presentation, were four students and their English teacher from School #21 in Archangel.  During their exchange trip, they attended classes at Westbrook High School, visited the Westbrook Public Safety building, and attended the monthly meeting of the Westbrook Historical Society, among many other fun and educational activities.
L-R: Andy Turcotte, Kseniia Shaitanova, Tatiana Kravechenko,
Phil Spiller, Svetlana Mozgovaia (teacher),
Alexey Bedrin, Kirill Belov-Belikov