CDCR Prison Inmate Firefighters of San Luis Obispo County
Community Programs for Prisoners

California Inmates on Frontline of the Wildfire Battle: What Are the Benefits?

California’s CDCR inmates are putting their lives on the line and giving it all it takes to fight the wildfire battle. But, will this benefit them in the end?

The California wildfire continues to gain momentum through the greater Los Angeles area, it’s successfully:

  • Disrupting businesses
  • Destroying homes
  • Causing the displacement of over 250,000 residents of California
Wildfire Battle: CDCR Prison Inmate Firefighters of San Luis Obispo County
CDCR Prison Inmate Firefighters of San Luis Obispo County. Image Source: Cal Fire SLO

The History of California Inmates Fighting the Wildfire Battle

Thousands of prison firefighters are on the frontline to ensure the wildfire is curtailed. In California, inmates make up roughly 1/3 of the state’s entire wildfire-fighting force. This isn’t a new trend.

Dating back to the 1940’s, California depended on prison inmates to fight wildfire by using them in digging containment lines through flash points and clearing away brush.

As a reward for this labor intensive and dangerous work and conditions which can easily be compared to the slave-era labor conditions, California’s CDCR inmates get the following compensation as prison firefighters:

  • $1 per hour when fighting a wildfire battle
  • $2 per day when there are no wildfires to fight
  • Better food, living conditions and visiting conditions
  • Credit towards early parole release (the greatest benefit)
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CDCR inmate firefighters fighting out-of-control wildfires that are extremely close to them.
Inmates from Oak Glen Fire Camp in Riverside retreat to higher ground as the flames start to move close while they work to control the fire near Oriole Court in Carlsbad, Calif., Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Thousands were asked to evacuate their homes in Carlsbad after the blaze erupted at about 10:34 a.m. Wednesday and spread through rapidly heavy brush before jumping into residential areas. (AP Photo/U-T San Diego, Hayne Palmour IV). Image Source: Prison World Blog

Is The Compensation Worth the Dangers of Being a Prison Firefighter?

An estimated 250 female inmates currently serve on California’s wildfire fighting force, putting their lives at risk in a bid to get out of prison sooner.

Several reports have highlighted the rigors inmates face trying to pass the requirements, including, but not limited to:

  • Broken arms
  • Broken ankles
  • Burns
  • Exhaustion
  • Psychological stress the inmates have to go through to get selected

Climate change has been attributed to be the cause of the California wildfire. Firefighting conditions get worse when fighting the wildfire battle from the frontline.

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California state officials are said to be scrambling for fresh inmates to join the wildfire fighting force. But, there are major incentives being offered, other than possible early release.

And, many don’t believe this will actually happen as long as CDCR is in desperate need of prison firefighters on the frontline.

Olokodana Toyosi is a divergent who tends to divert from the norm while developing in various directions. In mathematics terms, his series of thought increase indefinitely as new ideas are created in his mind. Known to the Prison Rideshare Network team as Toyo, he provides Virtual Assistant services that help keep the news rolling in a timely fashion. When he’s not working, Toyo enjoys conforming to absolutely nothing.

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VA - Olokodana Bukhari
Olokodana Toyosi is a divergent who tends to divert from the norm while developing in various directions. In mathematics terms, his series of thought increase indefinitely as new ideas are created in his mind. Known to the Prison Rideshare Network team as Toyo, he provides Virtual Assistant services that help keep the news rolling in a timely fashion. When he's not working, Toyo enjoys conforming to absolutely nothing.
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