No former prisoners have been hired by the state to fight wildfires since a law passed to help

Nearly half a dozen wildfires are on the rise, including some of the worst wildfires in state history, long before the so-called “wildfire season” began.

They will work with the state’s current wildlife firefighters, but after their work is over, the inmates will return to the bar, change their hard hats and Nomex yellow fire shirts to the Colorado Prison jumper.

Despite a law signed last year, no one was hired to remove legal barriers to obtaining full-time firefighting services with the state after the release of members of the State Wildland Prison Fire Brigade. According to the Colorado Fire Department, none of them applied.

State officials said this year could be the worst year of wildfires, stressing the need for firefighters as resources run out. The risk of wildfires is early and long lasting. Fires are getting louder and louder.

Fighting wildfires and helping trained firefighters find employment after their sentences are over, said Dylan Roberts, one of the main proponents of the law, said one of the main advocates of the law is Dylan Roberts.

“We didn’t expect this to happen overnight,” Roberts said.

According to Roberts, the purpose of the law is not to guarantee that every member of the Swift flight team will get a job in the state’s wildfire team, but to give the DFPC a chance to deny the applicant a guilty plea.

He also said that the investment in training prisoners on how to prevent the cost of wildfires could help the state.

But the lack of results has raised questions about the authorities’ commitment to reduce the recurrence of former Colorado residents.

Gary Bryce, director of the Colorado State Fire Department, has expected the state to hire former Swift flight attendants since the law was signed into law.

“We are determined not to re-create and reduce the good things that come with it,” says Bryce. “So if agencies do what they hire and do, there is a very high chance that Swift graduates will not be in that flow of information or in that stream of communication. So how do you know? ”

Just before the Great Depression came, the state was able to fill most of the wildfires. Eight vacancies have been filled by temporary staff, including six managers for ground-based firefighters and two managers for two engines and large air tanks, according to the division.

The number of people applying to fire stations in Colorado and across the country is declining, said Vaugh Jones, head of the DFP Wildland Fire Department.

“We’re starting to see candidates and candidates with little interest in all areas of fire, especially wildlife,” Jones said. “It’s a very difficult and demanding job, and it seems that the number of people who want to do this kind of work is declining.”

Long hours and a high-intensity work environment – especially as the fire seasons increase year-round – is leaking, Von said.

“The fires we are seeing right now, in the big fires, are really going to burn,” he said. Government firefighters said, “They can’t keep up that fast and work overtime all year long.

He said the division hopes to move from a temporary, current model to permanent locations to fight fires “all year round” and provide full benefits to firefighters.

Members of the State Durland Prison Fire Brigade set fire to Crueger Rock, southeast of Estes Park. The fire has been burning for two weeks, starting November 11, 2021 (CCI).

The artisans around the state are made up of seven to 10 people. Ideally, the room would need to be built with a group of 12 to 14 people, which would allow firefighters to rest or spend time with their families in the middle of the summer.

Under the May 2021 Act, the Department of Fire Prevention and Control is required to increase awareness of wildlife firefighting opportunities while incarcerated.

However, the state made no effort to announce the program until it sent a brochure with information about the firefighting facilities to the state. The brochure comes from the DFPC’s Declaration of Wildland Fire Jobs, the minimum requirements for positions and how a person can meet the minimum requirements before the July 1 deadline.

Many people graduating from the SWIFT program will have the necessary training and experience to work with handicrafts, Jones said. Others are qualified to build state-owned engines or join helicopters, transport them by helicopters, set up lines at distant locations, and assess the fire from above.

“They are a good, strong and reliable source, they are unquestionable,” said Jones, who has worked with SWIFT flight attendants on a wildfire and has been on fire for more than two decades.

CDOC will continue to work with the state to develop recruitment strategies, said Anne Skinner. She said that some members of the Swift flight team met with other firefighters to learn about opportunities. The SWIFT supervisor communicates with agencies in the state and can also pass on possible tasks.

“We hope that former SWIFT staff members who were denied the opportunity to practice in the service prior to SB21-012 can now have a positive impact on the state’s firefighting resources,” Skinner said in an email.

After being released from prison, former Swift flight attendants may still face challenges in hiring a government team, he said, adding that the country’s wildlife firefighters are normally required to travel to neighboring states, which is sometimes restricted during the prisoner’s amnesty. .

Since the law was enacted, 12 former Swift flight attendants have been released, Skinner said.

She said that as the prisoners became more aware of the opportunities available to them, they would expect to see more recruits. CDU hired a former Swift member to work with their firefighters, which she hopes will set an example for inmates who want to pursue full-time firefighting.

So far this year, Swift members have been sent to Marshall Fire in Boulder County, fire in Lyon and Lake George in April, and Pugosa Springs in Plumata Fire in May. In collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, County Fire Department and Homeowners’ Associations, they are working on discounts in the state, Skinner said.

Earning about $ 40 a day, they have received similar training with the state’s current wildlife firefighters and have some experience fighting the state’s biggest and worst wildfires.

Since the launch of the Swift program, more than 2,500 inmates have participated in the program. However, less than 10 of them were released as full-time firefighters after their release, Bryce told Colorado State Fire Department.

“If this program is not at least a major pipeline, I would at least see it as a pipeline that will bring qualified candidates to the fire department,” he said.

Tyler Lawrence, who joined Swift during his four-mile detention at Canon City, apologized later this summer and hoped to turn the team’s experience into a full-time gig.

Lawrence worked as an auto mechanic before being convicted of theft and sentenced to eight years in prison, but said his experience with the Swift team made him think of a job change last fall in central Taylor County with his partner. Staff members.

“It makes me feel good about myself. You get into trouble for doing something or making a mistake and it gets into your head. You may feel that something is worthless or that people look at you differently, ”says Laurentz. “It’s the opposite when I go out and do this because we often go out here and they thank us for helping us and they don’t know we are prisoners or they don’t care.

Each member of the flight team is required to take training courses and exercise, including being able to walk 45 miles or 45 miles in less than 45 minutes or less. He said they work 16-hour shifts while at the scene of a fire and work out a project for each day – fire fighting or mitigation.

Laurentz said he plans to explore fire protection opportunities at local forest service offices after being referred to community remedies.

“You have to be there every night as part of the community corrections. You cannot leave the county. So fire doesn’t work properly unless I get local work. But as soon as I was forgiven and able to walk again, I tried to put out the fire again.

All jungles across the state will be posted online.

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