, 18 tweets, 8 min read
@kevinchlo This isn't entirely true, and I am speaking as a former incarcerated firefighter. I served on fire crews in prison with men who are now firefighters and fighting fires as we speak. There are obstacles, for sure, but they are not barred because of conviction. Continued...
@kevinchlo There is a program (opened in last few years), specifically designed for paroled firefighters to gain employment with CalFire.
@kevinchlo One of the biggest obstacles to paroled firefighters gaining employment with CalFire or US Forestry is gaining EMT certification, which has been difficult for people with convictions to get. However, CA passed a bill last year that alleviates the restriction for EMT licensure.
@kevinchlo Most fire department cannot hire paroled firefighters because they are city fire departments. Incarcerated firefighters are only trained in wildfire suppression. They are not trained in dealing with structure fires or emergency medical response.
@kevinchlo A major bar to many paroled firefighters from gaining employment is lack of Selective Service number. Many were on streets for 18th birthday & didn't register for the draft, thus making employment with US Forestry impossible.
@kevinchlo I believe they are paid $5/day now (I made between $1.90 & $3.90 / day when I was there). The most important compensation for becoming an incarcerated firefighter is early release, better work-time credits. I was released 18 months early for taking part in the program.
@kevinchlo @michael_w_busch See comments in this thread.
@kevinchlo I’m not sure if these men went through the post-parole training facility in Ventura, but they now work for Cal Fire.
@kevinchlo I write about some of my experiences in fire camp here (note: some data has changed since this was written, such as firefighter wages): hahnscratch.com/2017/06/10/the…
@kevinchlo Here’s a man who served as an incarcerated firefighter, who currently works as a #hotshot for US Forestry. He was on fire crew with me and is a friend: instagram.com/perez__1927/
@DevoBallare @kevinchlo And an interview I did about fire camp: hahnscratch.com/2017/11/01/the…
@kevinchlo My fear insofar as the negative attention the CA fire camp program gets is that it will eventually lead to the program being shut down, rather than improved upon. That would just put ~4K people back behind the walls.
@kevinchlo There are many thousands of men & women in prison who want to be in a fire camp but can’t. There are prisoners who can’t wait to get there. How may places can you think of, within the prison system, that people actually want to be? Let’s not take that away from them.
@kevinchlo If we want to focus on unfair labor / 13th Amendment type issues, why don’t we focus on the involuntary work people do in prison, like pushing a broom for 9 cents per hour?
@kevinchlo Update: I just spoke with a former incarcerated firefighter who now works for US Forestry as a FF (Hotshots). He was NOT required to get an EMT license at all. His convictions were not an issue. And he received a First Responder Certification training after hire.
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