PHILADELPHIA (FOX 29) - It was a historic moment Friday at one of the nation's oldest fire departments when 43-year-old Cecilia Ortiz became the first Latina ever to be promoted to captain in the Philadelphia Fire Department.
In the lobby of Temple University's Performing Arts Center, newly promoted Fire Captain Cecilia Ortiz got a well-deserved hug from her dad and sister-in-law
Each first responder in this crowd has his or her own story of accomplishment. But Ortiz is a first--the first Latina fire captain in a Philadelphia Fire Department that traces its roots to the 1730s.
"It's an emotional time for myself and my family," she said.
She spent 14 years climbing the fire service career ladder with few other women along for the climb.
Ortiz didn't join the fire department until she was 29. It was a major career shift.
"What clicked for me is I worked in an office environment and it just wasn't for me. I'm a people person. I like to work with people," Captain Ortiz said.
Ortiz is a married mother of three. Her kids have expressed some interest in fire service. Now, they and others have a role model. Someone who proved you're never too old to follow your passion.
"Just knowing that this is something that they can do as well. Knowing that if you're committed and this is something you really want, you can do it just like I did," she said.