(WSVN) - She spent her life serving her country and her community. We’re shining the spotlight on Miami’s first Hispanic female chief fire officer to retire, who’s now facing her last call of duty. 7’s Robbin Simmons with her story.
Yoli Alvarez has spent her entire life in Miami.
Yoli Alvarez: “I was raised in Wynwood, and single mom and two sisters.”
Her mom always told her if she applied herself, she could become anything she wanted.
So in high school, Yoli told her mom she wanted to be a soldier in the Army.
Yoli Alvarez: “I said, ‘Hey, Ma, I joined the military.’ She was like, “No,’ she didn’t believe me until, actually, the sergeant came to pick me up.”
Yoli says there is something special about serving her country.
Yoli Alvarez: “I started as a Morse code interceptor. I was assigned to the National Security Agency, NSA.”
But by her late 20s, she wanted to come home to serve her community. Yoli joined the fire academy.
Yoli Alvarez: “Back then, I weighed like 112 pounds; everything weighed more than I did. And it was hard, I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and say it was easy. No, it was brutally hard.”
But her hard work paid off.
Yoli Alvarez: “This right here was when I actually graduated as a firefighter. This is a proud moment.”
Yoli remembers the heartbreak of her very first emergency call after graduation.
Yoli Alvarez: “My first call was actually a pregnant female that was overdosed, and sadly, you know, she didn’t – she nor the baby made it.”
During the course of her 33-year career, Yoli served on the elite search-and-rescue team. Her hard work and dedication got her noticed.
Yoli Alvarez: “This is when I got promoted to lieutenant, proud moment.”
And then district chief, where she oversees five fire stations, the Technical Rescue Team and the dive team.
Even though the journey was tough, she says it was all worth it.
Yoli Alvarez: “I wanted to help people, I just want to help people in the time of need.”
The challenge she leaves behind: who will fill her shoes?
Capt. Ignatius Carroll, City of Miami Fire: “You see a woman who not only devoted herself in the military but came here to the fire department, determined, moved up the ranks to becoming the first Hispanic district chief fire officer in our department’s history.”
Chief Alvarez hopes to inspire the next generation to dream big.
Yoli Alvarez: “It doesn’t have to be firefighting; it has to be whatever your dreams are. As long as you believe in yourself, you work hard, it can happen.”
Chief Alvarez is planning to spend more time with her family during her retirement.
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