A CDCR inmate firefighter was among five Californians who died in the line of duty and were honored last weekend (Oct. 9) at a national memorial service by the Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The 35th annual ceremony, held at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, honored 79 fire fighters who died in 2015 and 33 who died in 2014.

Inmate firefighter Raymond G. Araujo, 37, suffered a fatal cardiac arrest during a training exercise in the Hathaway Canyon on the Morongo Indian Reservation, near the town of Banning, on April 13, 2015.  Araujo was one of 43 Riverside County jail inmates who had volunteered to work beside CDCR inmates on wild land fires.

“The inmates who volunteer to protect our communities from devastation of fires perform a valuable public service and it is a sad event when we lose one of them,” said CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan at the time.

“Firefighters possess an extraordinary blend of courage and compassion which allows them to willingly face tremendous risks to help those in need,” said Chief Dennis Compton, Board of Directors chairman for the firefighter’s foundation. “Each fall, we gather to reflect on the sacrifices of those who died in the line of duty and to let their families, friends and co-workers know they will never be forgotten.”

Araujo’s name will be added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the Academy’s grounds.

Other Californians honored in Maryland include:

  • Captain Scott Carroll, 48, of the Oxnard Fire Department who suffered a brain aneurysm and died on Nov. 30, 2015;
  • Firefighter Michael Hallenbeck, 21, of the USDA Forest Service, who died Aug. 8, 2015, after being struck by a falling tree during the Sierra Fire in the El Dorado National Forest;
  • Engineer Gregory Hennessey, 49, of the Orange County Fire Authority, who died Jan. 20, 2014, after responding to multiple emergency calls;
  • Captain Franck Tremaine, 58, of the Jackson Fire Department, who died on Jan. 10, 2015, after responding to a motor vehicle accident.

Approximately 3,800 CDCR inmates with minimum custody status volunteer to fight wild land fires and are housed in 43 conservation camps across the state, which CDCR operates in a partnership with CAL FIRE and with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Another CDCR inmate firefighter was killed earlier this year while fighting a fire. Here is the Inside CDCR article.