Inmate firefighter crews preparing for wildfire season

MORONGO INDIAN RESERVATION, Calif. (KABC) -- Inmate firefighter crews are gearing up for the upcoming wildfire season, going through a series of drills to make sure they're ready to fight flames on dangerous terrain.

Inmate crews were run through a series of drills to make sure they can hike up steep hillsides, carry equipment and cut fire lines.

The state inmate firefighter program is voluntary, labor-intensive and dangerous. Inmates with non-violent offenses and less than five years remaining on their sentences can sign up to do the work.

"This is one of the tools in our toolbox," said Division Chief Steven Beach with Cal Fire Riverside. "Not all the time can we put a bulldozer on a steep hill or rocky terrain."

Inmate Jason Shafer, who will be released in September, has already fought 10 fires since he joined the program.

"We prepare ourselves for days like this because when it comes to a fire, the dangers are times 10," Shafer said.
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.