Firefighters in Orange

California Governor Jerry Brown shakes hands with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmate workers after a press conference on the Thomas Fire at the Ventura County Fairgrounds Saturday, December 9, 2017.
Paul Wellman

There are not enough ways verbally, or otherwise, to express the appreciation and gratitude our community feels for our brave and dedicated firefighters from here and afar. We watch the newscasts and see clips of the firefighters hard at work in the danger zones.

We are familiar with seeing the firefighters dressed in yellow. If you have been paying close attention, you have also noticed firefighters dressed in orange. These firefighters are a separate entity, unassociated with any formal department. These brave men and women are inmates who live in one of the more than 40 fire camps across the state. Their sheer numbers on the fire line would surprise you.

These men and women are low-level offenders who have volunteered to go through rigorous firefighting training to prepare them to work alongside and at the direction of regular firefighting personnel. Their training is extensive. Prior to acceptance into training, they have been thoroughly vetted. Not only do they have a desire to make a difference and make amends for their mistakes, but to also create for themselves a viable and respected career opportunity when they re-enter society.

It is my desire to inform the community of these individuals who have not received recognition. They work tirelessly to protect our community from the continuing devastation.


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