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El Salvador Sends First Female Firefighter to CENTAM SMOKE

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shelby Pruitt-Johnson
  • Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

A female firefighter from the Fire Department of El Salvador was the first woman ever to participate in CENTAM SMOKE at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, from April 22-26, 2024. 

El Salvador has been participating in CENTAM SMOKE since 2007. For this iteration, it sent a female firefighter, increasing female participation in the multinational exercise to 18 percent. Yoselin Alejandra Orellana Ramos, a Salvadoran Firefighter II, whose firefighting experience started just under three years ago expressed her gratitude to the department for the opportunity.  

“I am extremely grateful to God and the institution for the enormous privilege of being the first woman to participate in such activity,” Orellana said.  

Orellana represented female firefighters along with two other Guatemalan and three Joint Task Force-Bravo’s 612th Air Base Squadron female firefighters at CENTAM SMOKE. 

During CENTAM SMOKE, Orellana additionally trained with firefighters from Jamaica, Colombia and Honduras on vehicle extrication, rescue tactics, techniques and procedures and structural live fire training. Throughout the training, Orellana supported her fellow Salvadoran firefighters during training and recalls the overwhelming support she received in return.  

“They are extremely supportive, and they trust in my ability to be able to carry out such activities,” Orellana said.

Not only were her teammates supportive, so were the female firefighters of the 612th ABS.  

“Orellana was a great ambassador – one of the hardest working people in the class,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Eisenbarth, a firefighter assigned to the 612th ABS. “It’s fantastic to see such a strong female presence like her during our exercises.”  

Females in firefighting bring different perspectives, skills and experiences to departments, creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone.  

Orellana urges women who are interested to join the firefighter career field, and in future, they too will get the opportunity to attend CENTAM SMOKE.  Along with gratitude and motivation, Orellana embodied dedication to this career field and to this training. 

“Self-denial” is one of the Fire Department of El Salvador’s values, and she perfectly captured her thoughts on her selfless service.  

“My story as a firefighter is the satisfaction to be able to help people and serve them with all my heart in any need that arises,” Orellana said. “Without a doubt, I love my job.” 

She attributed the CENTAM SMOKE training as motivation, saying she knows whatever she learns, she will be able to take back to El Salvador and serve her people.  In El Salvador, the number of fire emergencies attended by the Tactical Intervention Team of the Department of Emergencies of the Directorate-General for Civil Protection was 352 this year alone.  The knowledge learned during this exercise will allow her to aid her department and to be able to rapidly respond to fires and rescue emergencies like these.  

A safe, stable Central America is dependent on multinational exercises like CENTAM SMOKE that increases interoperability and builds combined partner capabilities.