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Old 06-22-2016, 06:56 PM
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Default So Cal wildfire fighters of a different kind

The "San Gabriel Complex Fire" you have been hearing about in the news is extremely close to native trout habitat - - watersheds where trout still have significant genetic markings of the endangered Southern California steelhead.

But this is an "off-topic" post, not about the fish. And it is not intended to be political, but it is touting one of the few programs that I think people of all persuasions can agree on: I'm talking about California's inmate firefighters. Instead of doing time in a typical prison, they have requested to serve their sentence in old WW2 Quonset huts in the mountains under generally rustic conditions.

Fire Camp 19 is just a few miles up the road from the San Gabriel Complex Fire. This is not the coddled "Club Fed" lifestyle like you often hear about in California facilities. These are some of the hardest-working guys (and women, over at Camp 13) I've met. Each workday they cross a yellow line in the camp driveway and are remanded from CDCR to LA County Fire custody to work in the hills, running in full gear, cutting brush, shoveling fire breaks, just to stay in shape for the next big fire.

During a fire, they work-side-by-side with the firefighters, doing the same jobs, putting their lives at the same risk for each other. When they are on active firelines, they do get hazard pay (just a few bucks per hour, well below local minimum wage, plus a high-protein dinner).

Though the camps are minimum security, as far as I know they've only had one inmate walk-away during the entire history of the program. (Most of the security measures are to keep bad outside influences from getting in, rather than the other way around.)

I'm not trying to minimize their previous offenses - - the last inmate firefighter I met was convicted of a DUI manslaughter. But whatever else you think about them, and/or the faults of our state's correctional system, you can be assured that these particular inmates are working hard to repay their debt to society, and are doing us a big service in those hills right now.
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Old 06-23-2016, 07:20 PM
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Default Re: So Cal wildfire fighters of a different kind

Great story, thanks for sharing!
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Old 06-24-2016, 08:05 AM
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Default Re: So Cal wildfire fighters of a different kind

As Larry says, this a great story. Thanks, yikes.

steve
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