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Prison inmates get trained to fight wildfires

April 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
For inmate firefighters in Corona the task at hand was cutting a six foot wide break in thick foliage to stop an advancing fire. But it's only training exercise and there is no fire. The drill is aimed at training inmate crews for the summer fire season."This is a competitive event between each of the crews. We have representatives of three camps here," said Chad Moxley of Cal Fire. "Each crew is out here to strive to do the best job and it's very militaristic. It is a drill."

In the drill the inmates scrambled to exit the crew bus and are assigned tools to fight the fires. Inmates also train in safety drills like learning how to deploy fire shelters.

"With Cal Fire we utilize inmate firefighters from the California Department of Corrections and we train our inmates to a standard for firefighting around the hand crews," said Moxley.

While the five day exercise in Corona is intense, crews work throughout the year during periods of rain snow and winds. But their primary responsibility is playing an important role in putting out wildfires.

There are 163 inmate crews in California. Each member of the 12 to 18-man crew has been through training exercises before but constantly train and re-train to remain sharp.


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