By Lt. Sarah Watkins, AA/Public Information Officer
California Rehabilitation Center
NORCO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Fire Department at the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) in Norco recently conducted a half-acre controlled burn near Ingalls Hall.
The property is leased to CDCR for training and parking and had become a fire hazard due to the drought and dry conditions of summer. The burning was part of a training exercise.
CRC Fire Chief Dennis Ellison, Fire Captains Richard Chambers and Robert Lundy, and inmates Damien, Eric, Luis and Robert participated in the training. They had 14 plots of grass, each measuring about 14 feet by 30 feet, totaling about half an acre.
The Fire Captains and Fire Chief used different firing methods in the training, such as wildland hose lays and fireline construction training. They also completed their annual R-130 wildland refresher, throwing fire shelters, cutting fireline and doing hose lays.
The burn went as planned and there were no injuries. Valuable training was gained in wildland fire behavior, according to those involved. The Captains and inmates stayed in the area to ensure the fire was completely extinguished before departing.
Inmate firefighters are assigned to the Fire House where they live and work and they are supervised by one of three Fire Captains. The inmates are not required to have any fire technology experience as they are provided training once they have been assigned.
The Fire Chief and Captains provide approximately one year of structural and wildland fire training. These inmates do not regularly go outside the institution to fight fires with the Forestry Camp; however, they are approved and trained to do so. Most inmates assigned have less than five years on their sentences and no current or pending disciplinary actions. This was the first controlled burn these inmates experienced in their training.
Warden Cynthia Y. Tampkins and a few of her administrators watched the training exercise.