California prison inmates are an integral part of the firefighting system. Around 900 inmates make up the inmate firefighter crews, as part of a program with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
However, the program only works well if the inmates do more good than harm.
While fighting a vegetation fire just outside Sacramento, California, an inmate took one of the firetrucks. The 31-year-old went on a joyride, crashing the truck.
He injured himself and caused irreparable damage to the fire engine itself. The truck was rammed through a fence and into Shingle Springs business Rack-It Truck Racks.
According to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Alisha Herring, Shingle Springs is 40 miles east of Sacramento. The inmate was a part of Cal FIRE's Amador- El Dorado unit.
The inmate stole the engine at 12:40 a.m., just two hours after he and the rest of the crew had begun working on the vegetation fire, said Herring.
The inmate was injured in the crash. He was treated for those injuries at a nearby hospital, and will recover. Spokeswomen for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Terry Thornton said, that no one else was hurt in the incident.
Thornton also said the crash was under investigation and the department will be withholding the inmates name. They did say that the inmate has been a member of the program since 2015 and was from Orange County.
Each crew of inmate firefighters has 62 inmates and they are deployed throughout the state. The 900 inmate strong crew is going to be reduced in size, since state Gov. Gavin Newsom is shutting down one of the largest training facilities.
Thornton stated, “During the incident, significant damage was done to the engine as well as private and public property.” According to Herring the replacement cost of the fire engine is around $280,000.
The investigation is being completed by California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, as well as CDCR and local law enforcement.