As a child, Niria Garcia dreamed of being a firefighter. When she was old enough to try, she was told she couldn’t. But she pursued her dream anyway. Today, she remembers those who did not believe in her with a smile.
She starts by explaining to us that she is a bombero (firefighter) and not a bombera (fire hydrant). "Bomberas are fire hydrants," she laughs. "And I’m also a volunteer." Niria Garcia, ofBBVA Mexico, may not look like a firefighter, but she does her job with the same fierceness as anyone else.
She has wanted to be a firefighter since she was little girl in her hometown of Guadalajara, in Jalisco. "I used to climb up on trucks say, I am a fireman. I never thought that dream would come true.”
It wasn’t until she moved to Hermosillo, Sonora, in 2005 that she had the chance. "I wanted to do something for the community, and they were building a fire station near my house at that time. I asked what was needed to become a firefighter. They told me the most important requirement was to be willing to volunteer, because it isn’t a paid position.”
Niria signed up for the training course, but not many people thought she would pull it off. “When they saw how small I was, they told me I didn’t have what it takes. But I told myself that I would do everything in my power to achieve it. I passed both the theoretical and practical exams, and I obtained my firefighter certificate.”
Niria García with her team
Prove it on the field
However, completing the course was not enough. She still had to prove that her heart was really in it. "They don’t let you go out on calls for the first few months. You have to prove that you really want to do it, that you are responsible and motivated." She laughs when she thinks about her first time on a call. "It was a swarm of bees, and I acted like it was the biggest incident in Hermosillo." Unfortunately, it has not always been so easy. "I have dealt with many situations in which people have died," she says.
Being a volunteer firefighter consists of dedicating at least 10 hours a day once a week, or eight and then another two on the weekends. "I go from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Tuesdays. After work, I pick up my children, help them with their homework, and put them to bed. I leave them with a babysitter when I go to the fire station. At 5 a.m., I go home, take a bath, wake up my kids and take them to school. Then I go to work." She says she can handle the load. "Two days isn’t too hard for me because my body is used to it. Although you don’t only have to give it your all as firefighter. Here at work I also have to do my best."
Teamwork is vital and nowadays, technology allows us to form teams across long distances"
For Niria, the key to staying motivated is "wanting to help. You always have to go the extra mile in everything. What can you do for your community? Whether it be at work, your family or as a volunteer."
And she does just that. Apart from her usual shift, one Sunday a month she participates in educational games to teach children about fire safety and prevention. And, in July, she helps teach a summer course to kids on Saturdays.
If she has one complaint, it is about the lack of time. "You have to spread it out it a little, because my children are very important to me. I need more time for many things. I think that if the day were 36 hours long, I still would not have enough time. And if I had 48, I would just do more things," she says, laughing again.
Name: Niria García
Position: Regional Mortgage Law-BBVA Bancomer-
Function: Being a link in a chain with the aim of closing with a flourish
Hobby: Dancing and sports
Dream: Take a trip with my whole family
The importance of teamwork
Niria knows that it is impossible to do everything she does by herself. "In the fire department and at the bank, teamwork is vital. At work, I am alone in the state of Sonora. But I have colleagues who work in other states, and I rely on them. Nowadays, technology allows us to form teams across long distances. The members of the team do not need to be close to each other physically.”
She says she has been very lucky. But that she has also worked very hard. "I’ve had the opportunity to do many things. But you make things happen, because many people say they don’t have enough time. But motivation has legs and feet, I tell them. Whoever wants to, can."
Niria has shown that effort and confidence in one's own possibilities are a fire that always blazes.