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NEWS | April 29, 2024

El Salvador sends the first female firefighter to participate in CENTAM SMOKE

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 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, but in this iteration, El Salvador sent a female firefighter increasing female participation in the multinational exercise to 18%.  

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 recalled 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, but 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 are bringing different perspectives, skills and experiences to departments creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment for everyone.  

Orellana urges women who are interested in joining the firefighter career field and in the future, they too will get the opportunity to attend CENTAM SMOKE.  

Along with gratefulness 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 of being 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 attested to the CENTAM SMOKE training as motivation as 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. 

Joint Task Force-Bravo is a unit under the U.S. Southern Command and based out of Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras. JTF-Bravo is a forward-based expeditionary joint task force operating as U.S. Southern Command's lead forward element in the Central America region to promote stability and security and counter transnational and transregional threat networks