ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Beneath the more than 50 pounds of gear and the steamy mask, two of the newest St. Paul firefighters both have a story.

These are the stories of Mohamed Daoud and Abdi Warsame.

“Yeah, we got each other’s back,” Warsame said.

And they have for a while. Warsame moved to St. Paul from Somalia as a young boy, while Daoud stayed in Somalia and Kenya until he was 19. The pair met playing soccer. But now, they’re on a new team: St. Paul’s Fire Department.

“They are very competitive,” deputy fire chief Roy Mokosso said. “They came through the process. One is an EMT, one speaks four languages. They both have unique stories, both of them, and we look forward to the contributions they’ll be making to the department.”

It’s the department that now has the first two Somali firefighters in Minnesota.

“There’s a lot of Somali police officers, engineers, doctors, but no firefighters. So that inspired me and gave the passion to seek firefighting,” Warsame said.

“It really means a lot to our fellow Somali’s when they call for help and someone who looks like them, understands them, shows up for them in their time of need, and I’m honored to be someone who can help them,” Daoud added.

Daoud says he saw much trauma growing up in Africa, and people who needed help. Now he and his friend will give help.

“I’m very humbled, I’m very grateful. I feel like I’ve been given an opportunity and maybe pave the way for future generations who want to seek firefighting,” Warsame said.

They are two men with a fire and passion to serve.

There is no official tally, but according to the International Association of Firefighters, they believe they are the first two Somali-American firefighters in the country.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield