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Old 09-20-2008, 03:45 PM
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Default Conservation Camp Program

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Los Angeles County Fire Department, and California Department of Correction


Conservation Camp History

The Conservation Camp Program was initiated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) commitment to have able-bodied inmates perform meaningful work projects throughout the state. The CDCR road camps were established in 1915. During the Second World War (WWII), much of the work force that was utilized by the Division of Forestry (now the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection [CALFIRE]) was depleted. The CDCR stepped forward and provided the needed work force by having inmates occupy “temporary camps” to augment the regular firefighting forces. There were 41 interim camps during WWII. In 1946, the Rainbow Conservation Camp was opened as the first permanent male conservation camp. Rainbow made history again when it converted to a female camp in 1983. The Los Angeles County Fire Department (LAC), in contract with the CDCR, opened five camps in Los Angeles County in the 1980’s.


Description

CAL FIRE is currently authorized to operate 46 Conservation Camps statewide that house nearly 4,000 inmates and wards who earn $1.45 a day and $1 an hour while fighting fires. Additionally, participating inmates earn two days off their sentences for each day of work if they are sentenced to half-time (50%).
These camps are operated in conjunction with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
Through these cooperative efforts CAL FIRE is authorized to operate 200 fire crews year-round.
Fire Camps are minimum security, consisting of about 10 buildings, including military-style barracks, a dining hall, administration building, and work areas. Approximately 90 inmates are housed at each of the state’s 46 camps. Some will house up to 150 inmates. Inmates are housed at a Fire Camp anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. Some camps will accept them up to 5 years.

Qualifications

At intake, prisoners are carefully screened and informed of the program; those interested are invited to submit an application. Inmates, both male and female, with 27 points or less that otherwise meet the criteria for minimum custody and have more than 18 months, but less than 5 years remaining on their term are eligible for camp. The criteria for minimum custody is; no history of arson, sex, escape or violent offenses which caused injury to the victim. No felony holds, warrants or detainers. Medically fit for "full duty including camp/firefighting" on their CDCR 128c-medical
Generally, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) only selects individuals with little sentence time remaining in order to reduce the incentive for flight among participants.

Juvenile Firefighters

Juvenile offenders earn their way into camp placement. Wards must be medically fit, have between four and 36 months left to serve, must be free of major rule infractions, and have no history of escape with force or violence. Wards convicted of sex offenses or arson are excluded.

Q&A

Can People Convicted of A Violent Felony Go To Fire Camp?

Although AB 91-27 (the bible regarding who qualifies for camp) clearly states that anyone convicted of a violent felony under PC 667.5 is not eligible for camp, like everything in CDCR world, things change. The criteria is still there, but if they are having problems finding enough campers, they will review inmates that have a single conviction under PC 667.5 (violent felony) and if there is no injury to the victim, they may allow the inmate to go to camp. The original intent of AB 91-27 was that inmates that intentionally injured the victim would be restricted from any outside gate clearance. When they get short of campers, they start looking for 'intent to injure' and 'not seriously injured' so they can fill the camp beds.

Thank You, JLS, for the answer to this question.

Can People Convicted Of A Sex Crime Go To Fire Camp?

The policy for sex offenses is, if the inmate has to register under PC 290 or has an arrest that, had he been found guilty, would have to register under PC 290, he is not eligible for camp.

Thank You, JLS, for the answer to this question.

What Does The Term Fast Track To Fire Camp Mean?

The term fast tracked for camp is used for inmates that either paroled from camp within the past 3 years, or upon initial review, meet all the camp criteria and have all the necessary documents in their C-File (the CI&I, CDCR128-C Medical Chrono, Archive File, etc). The inmate still goes through the same process, but it is expected that he will be in camp 30 to 60 days faster than the norm.

Thank You, JLS

What are Crew Color Codes for LA County Fire Department

Paid crews wear yellow shirts, yellow pants and yellow helmets.
California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation incarcerated crews wear orange shirts, orange pants, and white helmets.
Juvenile incarcerated crews wear orange shirts, yellow pants and bule helmets.
Helmet striping denotes the various camps.

Camp Program

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) trains all inmate fire crews and supervises most camp crews on the fire line. 14 inmates generally serve on a single crew. Overseen by a Fire Department foreman, fire crews are “on-call” to respond to an emergency anywhere in the state. Such as: Wildfires, floods, search and rescue, and earthquakes.
When not responding to these emergencies, the crews are busy with conservation and community service work projects for state, federal, and local government agencies. Such as: Repairing roads and aquaducts and maintaining state parks and trails. Fire crews perform several million hours of emergency response each year, and more on work projects. Their shift starts at 8 A.M. for work assignment and ends generally around 3:30 P.M.,the inmates are returned to camp in the custody of a CDC officer
At the camp, the CDC oversees security and general operations

CONSERVATION CENTERS

Once qualified for camp training inmates train at: California Correctional Center in Susanville, Sierra Conservation Center in Jamestown, California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo and California Rehabilitation Center in Norco. Female inmate fire fighters receive training at the California Institution for Women in Frontera. The California Youth Authority also trains inmates for Fire Camp.

At one time the inmates in the camp program were volunteers from the prison population. Many changes have come to the Conservation Camp Program in recent years which have necessitated a change from this system. On June 26, 1961, the first important step in the accomplishment of a beneficial change was taken when the Forestry Training Unit at the Southern Conservation Center at Chino was activated. It was followed by the training unit at the California Conservation Center in Susanville. Next the Sierra Center at Jamestown began functioning in 1965.

Training

Before participants are transferred to a camp, they must complete a rigorous two-week to a four-week training program, or longer, depending on circumstances, in the correctional facility. The training emphasizes not only the basic skills of how to use an axe, a shovel, and the various other hand tools, but also the fundamentals of fire control. Physical conditioning of the inmate is directed at the conservation centers by Department of Corrections Physical Educational Instructors, who have certain standards that must be met by all inmate personnel who are assigned to the camp program. This training program also provides for a staff appraisal of the inmate's acceptance of the concept of camps, e.g.: Will he be a good camp man? Can he live and work in the camp community? What are his attitudes and his ability to adapt in a camp situation? The classification screening of the inmates and the daily observance by Forestry instructors make it possible to eliminate most of the un-adaptable inmates from the camp program. Experience has shown that this process works better than the previous system of seeking volunteers.

In an average year, Conservation Camp Program inmates provide three million person hours in firefighting and other emergencies, and seven million person hours in community service project work, saving California taxpayers more than $80 million annually on average.


Last edited by Imani; 05-31-2010 at 12:17 PM.. Reason: Add text
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