Georgia Cost-Saving Plan Adds Inmates to Firehouse Staffing

ST MARYS, Ga. (AP) — Officials in southeast Georgia are considering a money-saving program that would put inmates in fire stations. The Florida Times-Union reports ( that the program would put two inmates in each of three existing firehouses in Camden County.



Times are tough and many departments, career and volunteer, are having a hard time maintaining even minimum staffing. Is this Georgia plan even worth the risk when considering public image and public relations?

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...except that the milk quickly sours when the cow steals your jewelry.

It seems as though you may be having some comprehension issues there Brian. You tried to liken these felons as volunteer FF's or more to the point, tried to thus equate volunteer FF's as "slaves" because you can't seem to grasp the definition. I pointed out the difference for you.


A volunteer dept incorporates certain risks that aren't seen with career depts, the biggest issue being staffing. A volunteer is free to come and go and respond on the calls they want etc, sometimes by choice, or by other obligations. A community also endures some risk because of having a volunteer dept where residents may have to give their time for the neighbors and there is a risk with a delayed responses etc.


Whereas the idea you are touting here, the term "volunteer" is only for the program, everything else is what a paid/career dept would be. There are no other freedoms for the inmates, there are no other jobs or obligations, their sole purpose then is to provide state sponsored slave labor to communities who decide they don't want to endure their own funds to either:

A) establish their own fire dept, be it career or volunteer.

B) don't wish to incorporate services with a neighboring community and share costs for resources

C) would rather have free services provided by the state because they don't wish to endure their community responsibility.


So then you go on with "From a management stand point what’s wrong and don’t forget they are never late.".......yep, because they are essentially slave labor.


So let's see here Brian, what is thus the difference between a Volunteer FF and a Career FF.

Can volunteers choose the calls they want to go on?

Yes.....can career? No

Can volunteers miss a drill/training night because of other obligations?

Yes....can career? No

Are volunteers required to spend their "duty time" at the station ready for calls?

No....are career? Yes


These are just some basic differences, albeit each dept sets their own guidelines etc, but the biggest difference, volunteers are not "required" to always be ready and available, stark difference from the "volunteers" you claim with these felons.


So now, let's look at a couple basic differences between career/paid FF's and the felons.


Are the firefighters required to be at the station ready for calls?

Yes to both

Can they choose which calls they wish to respond to?

No to both

Can they choose to miss a drill/training while on duty?

No to both

Are they compensated for their services?

Career/paid...yes, inmates...No


So please remind me, what is the term used to describe someone who is required to perform at all times, always "on duty", can not leave to go home after their shift, and receives NO COMPENSATION for their services??? Doesn't that sound eerily similar to the definition of slave??


How huge? So you’re saying as long as they set around on their ass the whole sentence it makes things better?


Nope, I did not say that, try some reading comprehension, I said there is no reason felons should be used for firefighters or in public/protective services.


Now you are saying as long as you are not caught it’s ok and if you do get caught then you have broken the public trust.


Once again, try comprehension. You are the one saying there are people who haven't been caught and there are other criminals. There very well may be some people like this, however the difference being is they haven't broken the public trust like an inmate has. There is no place for such people who do illegal things and haven't been caught, just as there is no place for those who have been caught and are serving their time, difference being is one has actual facts showing public trust was broken. Until someone is caught they are innocent until proven're inmates have been proven guilty.



How have they degraded the fire service?


Did you seriously just ask this question?? How about going back and taking a look at all the other comments about this. What you are touting here is that felons should be given the opportunity to be in a trusted, public safety protection role, over someone else who hasn't broken the law. Not to mention these are prisoners serving their time and thus taking positions or preventing positions for honest, law abiding citizens to be FF's.


There sure are plenty of ways that these prisoners can "prove something to themselves and public" without being utilized as firefighters, especially in communities who choose not to fund their own services.

as far as I know they have paid felons it’s called an informant.


That is comedy gold, equating an informant as being in law enforcement.


Now I believe what you are saying is using them to patrol. I can’t say, not my job.


Why not? Why can't felons, current inmates STILL serving time, be utilized as police officers? You have ample excuses and try to justify felons as firefighters, why not having them be cops too? Where is the difference?

C'mon Ben, haven't you've been paying attention, these guys are trusted and are low crime offenders.......still subject to monitoring, shake downs, and drug tests, like every other trusted FF out there mind you.


Irregardless of the program or who is performing the service, Jack's question does get to the point and Brian has continuously eluded this one.


I think it is because the question is rhetorical and we all know the answer.

Brian, Your logic or lack of is phenomenal. Talking to you is pointless. Your idea and the defense of it is idiotic. I am done. You confirm my misgivings about Georgia.

Correct except for the last statement.  I don't think we should generalize to an entire state based on one person, especially given the quality of some of their fire departments and the firefighters who staff them.


Atlanta, Savannah, Macon, Columbus, Augusta...I'd generalize that those departments are pretty good examples that should re-assure your misgivings.

Ummm, that's kind of a stalker-ish question, isn't it?



Brian, That was pretty confused on at least three counts.


By definition, until you are convicted of a felony-level crime, you are not a felon.


Your claim about using felons to create firefighter jobs is not accurate.  Using prisoners as firefighters PREVENTS firefighter job creation - it does not create them.  You are insisting that using free subsidized labor creates jobs.  It doesn't.  It prevents those jobs from ever being created.


Using ISO and NFPA standards to defend using prisoners for free staffing makes no sense.   Departments all over the USA use ISO and NFPA standards every day without using prisoners as firefighters.  However, when you claim that the FD doesn't cost the community any money, that isn't accurate.  EVERY FD costs its community money.


What's worse is that you advocate for a FD that not only costs its community money, it costs the FD its public trust.   That's a cost that no FD can afford to pay.


Well said.

The whole  point and the question of this forum. Inmate staffing – Could it work? It is and has been for a little over two years on
this program.

The original program started in 1963 using inmates to assist in wild land fire, around 9 years ago the inmates started responding from firehouses
on prison property, assisting in wild land, structure fires and extraction. In all this time there has been no problems. The program is developed and monitored by the state DOC, the local prison, county or city officials and the FD itself.

You keep saying it’s a free ride on the government, I’m not sure about you but I pay taxes that run the government so we are talking about
my money and the other tax paying citizens.

The FD may have the longest history but really suxs as far
as support, compared to LE and EMS. I hate this fact as much as you. The growth of the FS has been stannic what do we do?

The program doesn’t degrade the fire services it enhances our
abilities and says a lot about the men and women that are paid FF’s working with these crews. Ask any of them and they can tell you the successes we have had how the communities have come to embrace and support our efforts and the differences it has made in their life.

They work with these people for a year or more of their lives; the inmates have to face life from a whole other view. They see the impact of DUI, how some people can lose everything to fire. They bring fresh eyes to a life that many have started looking at as a job or as routine. It helps them to keep that passion that made them do this in the first place.

Because the fire service has such a high moral standard the paid staff has influenced and help changed many lives. The demeanor of many in
the fire services is a perfect example of how these guys should be living their lives.  

You keep saying this slavery and it is wrong but then it is ok to use them in other jobs or places as long as it isn’t in the FD. If you want to make a stand quit moving the target, if it is slavery then say so, but just because you believe it to be doesn’t make it so.

A volunteer gives his life freely to do something with a passion
to make a difference, but it is by choice. Just like it is for the inmates.

If it is OK to use them on wild land fires you could have the same issues do you not think there are homes in rural areas that they could
break into? Again this may not be perfect or the most ideal but it does work and is effective on many levels. The total benefits have been laid out and enough time has gone by without any of your fears having any validity. I have not heard of any paid departments looking at losing jobs for this program. They have been losing them for other reasons. And along that line I haven’t heard of a lot of new paid departments coming on line. Please correct me if that is wrong.

Most all states require a clean back ground to be a FF, volunteer or paid. Many departments have their own policies in place. That is
great because these people do have a free run of people’s property.  An inmate does not.  

My vested interest is the safety of the public we serve and of my people. What is yours?

I think this horse has been bet to death and you have nothing new to add that would be concidered productive. I want to thank you and everyone else for your service. It is a pleasure to be able to do what I love.  


Congratulations!  Once again (and finally?) you've managed to avoid answering MY question/issue, namely: Once communities are aware of and have the choice to opt in to using inmates-in-lieu-of-paid/volunteer-firefighters, why would ANY community ever go back to paying for fire protection?

And your statement, "You keep saying it’s a free ride on the government, I’m not sure about you but I pay taxes that run the government so we are talking about my money and the other tax paying citizens." is false logic.  To whomever you pay those taxes, some of those are going to pay for FREE fire protection for communities who will neither fund nor staff their own fire department.  So why then should everyone else foot THEIR bill?

But I digress: Why would ANY community choose to pay for career firefighters, or volunteer to become firefighters when they can simply let prisoners do their dirty work? 

Moreover, why would ANY politician even consider increasing taxes to pay for a career department, or raises for career firefighters, or any stipend or compensation to volunteers, when they can offer their constituents FREE (mostly paid by everyone else in the state) fire protection?

Why would ANY community choose to provide for its own fire protection when it can use prisoners?



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