October 03, 2019 16:10
Twenty years ago, Portland Firefighter Joseph Troncoso accompanied then-Chief Ed Wilson to Guadalajara, Mexico for a sister city visit. Troncoso is bilingual and Wilson asked him to come and act as his interpreter.
Part of the trip included visiting area fire stations and meeting with bomberos (Spanish for firefighters) and they soon learned that the equipment and techniques that the bomberos used were behind the times. On the plane back, Troncoso came up with a plan to assist the sister city with its firefighting needs.
Troncoso created the non-profit Bomberos Latinos, which works in partnership with the Portland Guadalajara Sister City Association to help bomberos throughout Latin America. Spanish-speaking firefighters from across the United States have gone on 60 training trips across Latin America. Bomberos Latinos solicited and distributed donations of essential firefighting equipment, such as air packs, thermal imaging camera, radiation detection equipment, and even a fire engine and a ladder truck. The training Bomberos Latinos provides is not only translated into Spanish, but also adapted so that it can be used in the countries where it is being taught. There are no fire hydrants in most of the cities in Latin America, for example. Also, the building construction is vastly different.
“I’m proud of being a Latino firefighter and it’s very fulfilling to take what I’ve learned and used in my career at Portland Fire & Rescue and share it with my brother and sister firefighters across Latin America,” he says. “Being a firefighter is a great career, whether you are in Portland or throughout Latin America, and I’m glad Bomberos Latinos has been able to share best practices with our neighbors.”
Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Sara Boone offers her congratulations to Troncoso for 20 years of exceptional service to the community. “Firefighters by nature are called to help people, so the work that Lt. Troncoso has done for the past 20 years in Latin America comes as no surprise but should be recognized and celebrated all the same. Lt Troncoso volunteers his time to help others and has saved lives in the process. We appreciate his efforts,” says Chief Boone.