Calif. bill would allow convicts to become firefighters

Assembly Bill 1211 would allow convicts to join the California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship program

By News Staff

SACRAMENTO — A California bill being considered by lawmakers would allow convicts to work as firefighters after their sentences are up.

CBS Sacramento reported that Assembly Bill 1211 would give former inmates the chance to join the California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Program, which recruits people from underrepresented groups.

Approximately 3,700 inmates are currently working as firefighters through the Conservation Camp Program, with 2,600 of those being fire-line qualified.

However, the inmates are not allowed to become a firefighter when they are released from prison.

“When they leave that service they’re told that they will never ever be allowed to be a firefighter,” Assembly member Eloise Reyes said.

California Professional Firefighters Communications Director Carroll Wills said he is fundamentally opposed to the legislation.

“These individuals that are inmate hand crews are not firefighters. They’re not doing line fire responsibilities,” he said. “They’re not doing any emergency mitigation, they’re certainly not responding to medical calls.”

Reyes said the convicts should be given a second chance.

“We know people make mistakes and then they turn their lives around,” said Reyes. “They might not get the job, but at least they won’t be precluded. It shouldn’t be life sentence.”

Wills added that the bill is negligent on behalf of public safety.

“Good for them that they can work to repay their debt to society in this fashion, but that’s not the same thing as a firefighter,” he said. “Firefighters are sworn officers. They take an oath and can and should be held to the highest possible standard.”


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