Charlotte firefighter bridges language gap at critical moments

Charlotte Fire Department creating diverse workforce

Charlotte firefighter bridges language gap at critical moments

The Charlotte Fire Department is looking to hire more Spanish-speaking staff. Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson said they need more firefighters that speak Spanish in order to better serve the Hispanic community.

“Our members find value in their careers by serving the community during emergency and nonemergency interactions,” said Johnson. “Through our recruitment efforts, we continue to explore innovative ways to create a more diverse workforce and enhance our organizational culture.”

One of the department’s Spanish-speaking firefighters is Captain Juan Pablo Soto, who leads the team at Station 26.

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“We’re always in need of Latino firefighters. The Hispanic population in Charlotte is very big, and right now we only have around 20 to 30 firefighters that speak Spanish,” Soto said.

Most people calling on a first responder experience a wide range of emotions, from fear to panic. If they are unable to communicate in English that anxiety can lead to frustration and helplessness.

“Charlotte firefighters are trained to remain calm on the scene and treat all patients as if they were members of our own families,” Soto said. “For me, being able to interpret information for our Spanish-speaking citizens is a special honor.”

For many, facing an emergency situation without the means to explain critical details like medical symptoms or the location of an incident can be as traumatic as the emergency itself.

The Charlotte Fire Department employs more than 1,160 men and women, including 1,040 firefighters.

While the fire department’s hiring needs vary from year to year, one of its enduring goals is to seek out highly qualified and diverse candidates to join the world-class organization.

The Charlotte Fire Department has been serving the Queen City since 1887.

Its primary mission is to preserve life and property through rapid emergency response, code enforcement, education and planning.

“We hold diversity, equity, and inclusion in high regard. We are working to be an equitable and inclusive organization that embraces and values the individuality of our members while maintaining team cohesiveness,” Johnson said. “These ideals empower us to unite understanding with action while serving our communities with dignity.”

(MOTUS Media/Photo Credit: MOTUS Media)

Firefighters are highly skilled professionals who provide emergency response to fires and other life-threatening situations.

Although firefighters may be best known for fire suppression, their job requires much more.

In many cases, firefighters are the first emergency personnel to arrive at the scene of a traffic accident or medical call and must have the skills to treat injuries and perform other vital medical, rescue and emergency response functions.

The Charlotte Fire Department application process is now open.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, public affairs manager at WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte, at

Departamento de Bomberos de Charlotte

El Departamento de Bomberos de Charlotte busca servir mejor a la comunidad y está buscando a personas que hablen español para unirse a sus filas. Un bombero hispano nos dice qué cualidades buscan en los candidatos 👇 Más detalles sobre el proceso de solicitudes aquí 👉

Posted by Telemundo Charlotte on Wednesday, December 16, 2020