We are the only three firefighters from Florida who were firefighters in Cuba.

Alejandro Valdés, Rodney Ramos, and Leonardo Suárez recount how they took the step to dedicate their lives to firefighting and extinguishing fires.

Leonardo Suárez, Rodney Ramos, and Alejandro Valdés are Cubans and work in the vicinity of Tampa, but they have the particularity that in Cuba they were also firefighters. In fact, Valdés and Ramos coincided in the same fire department in Old Havana.

"We are the only firefighters in the state of Florida who were also firefighters in Cuba, and we want that number to increase," commented Leonardo Suárez. In an interview granted to CiberCuba, he explains that it was Alejandro Valdés who encouraged him to enroll in school and complete the three courses required to join the Fire Department in the United States.

Valdés began studying encouraged by his father and did not tire of encouraging Leo Suárez. Seeing that Suárez was hesitant, he arranged for him to be called from school, and that was how Suárez finally set out on the path that has led him to the profession that gives him life. In fact, he cannot imagine doing anything other than being a firefighter.

"It's difficult, but not impossible," says Rodney Suárez, from Old Havana, a resident of Miami since 2005, when asked about the level of demand required to train to be a firefighter. In his opinion, the most important thing is the language; everything else is effort, working full time while studying at the same time. It involves a lot of sacrifice, but for people like them who live their profession intensely, working in what they love is not considered work, explains Alejandro Valdés.

The three were shocked by the explosion of the Matanzas supertanker in 2022 and the Saratoga. Their faces still darken when they remember the firefighters who died in those two tragedies that shook the island two years ago. "They were sent to their death," Suárez points out.

Even though he is the only Hispanic in Leonardo Suárez's command, he assures that he has not had any issues integrating because his colleagues are very familiar with Cuban culture.

Currently, adds Rodney Ramos, most of the interventions he carries out as a firefighter are related to health emergencies. He knows that his is a risky profession, but he still wants his young children to continue the family tradition.

The three of them love their profession and are convinced that "firefighters have the same goals anywhere in the world: to save lives."

What do you think?


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Tania Costa

Havana, 1973) lives in Spain. She has directed the Spanish newspaper El Faro de Melilla and FaroTV Melilla. She was the head of the Murcia edition of 20 minutes and Communication Advisor to the Vice Presidency of the Government of Murcia (Spain).

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Tania Costa

(La Habana, 1973) lives in Spain. She has directed the Spanish newspaper El Faro de Melilla and FaroTV Melilla. She was the head of the Murcian edition of 20 minutos and Communication Advisor for the Vice Presidency of the Government of Murcia (Spain).