Latino family breaking barriers together within Philadelphia Fire Department

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, a Latino family from Northeast Philadelphia is breaking barriers together within the Philadelphia Fire Department. 

It’s not every day you meet a family, like the Sierra Ortiz familia, all humble heroes. 

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Latino family breaking barriers together within Philadelphia Fire Department

“It kind of just happened organically, my kids were raised in the department,” Chief Hector Sierra said. 

Cecilia Ortiz is the first Latina captain in the Philadelphia Fire Department. 

“You have to be strong to be a Latina, to represent your own culture, to represent yourself as a female, and especially in a department like this where you’re kind of like the minority,” Oritz said. 

She’s not the only pioneer in her family. Her husband, born in Puerto Rico, is a fire battalion chief. 

The couple passed down their passion for serving to their daughter Maya and son Kennieth. 

They became the first PFD Latino brother and sister duo to graduate from the Philadelphia Fire Academy. 

“The way my parents are, they always want to give back to the community so that rubbed off on me and my sister,” Kennieth Berrios said.

Even though the duo has only been firefighters for less than a year, they hope to inspire others. 

“We’d love to have more Latinas on the job and build that community up within itself,” Maya Sierra said. 

For Berrios, he says he carries his heritage on his back and he’ll always feel the weight of his family’s legacy. 

“There’s always pressure because of who they are, but I never step down from it. If anything, I look forward to that. And honestly, I’d want to surpass them,” Berrios said. 

A family mission, all pledging to pave the way. 

The family says even with their busy and different schedules, they still try and make time to come together and enjoy some Puerto Rican food.



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