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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"new americans"?

No one is saying that these people are angels but do you really believe they should just be written off. I’m not saying everyone can be saved, and this program is not open to just anyone, but if you can help one person make the right change in their life is it worth it? You need to think of the influences you have had in your life; if they were not there, where would you be?

We have and will save people that we know nothing about. Is that person a felon? Are they a murderer? Do you ask your victims about their background before you pull them from a wreak or burning building?

Over 75% of the fire departments in the US are volunteer; over 75% of firefighters are volunteer. If a city or county can afford to hire a firefighter how safe is it? I have been to many a fire department that there is one person on duty. It doesn’t matter what state you are in that is not safe or effective.

This program has put 12 paid firefighters to work that is 12 more positions that where not open, jobs that where not  there before.

The inmates have put their life’s on the line for people they know nothing about and would have never thought about and it has made a change in the way they think and the way they what to continue their life’s ones they are out.

Remember how you felt when you saved your first life? Or helped a family keep some of their memories from being totally lost to a fire? That is life changing!    

Question...what about the person that applies(de) for a job as a FF and doesn't have a criminal record?  Are you suggesting that felons be given a chance over non-felons?


And Scott Taylor...still waiting to hear what you mean by "new americans"

That should be a department call.

Felons or not the question should be can they do the job?

Are they trained?

Will they have my back?


NO, No, no...felon or not IS the question.  I'm not saying felons (some, at least) should never have a chance, just that they shouldn't have a chance BEFORE someone without a felony.  What you're suggesting (or at least, I'm inferring) is that a felon should have the same chance at a job as a FF as anyone else?  So the law abiding citizen could actually lose out on getting hired because a law breaking felon gets hired instead?  Really?


My apologies Jack; I was just fixing to correct that. The inmates do not take jobs from anyone. We hired 12 full time FF’s that is 3 shifts of 4 and they have 3 inmates each which provide a full engine crew of 4.

The inmates are not paid and the only cost is what we as tax payers pay already to house and feed them for nothing in return. It is just now they have a chance to at least pay some of that debt and burden back by being allowed to be in this program.     

So when time are better will you hire qualified personnel or keep it the same. I understand budget are tight but people call us in time of need and public perception is everything. Will they not have tattoos, tear drops or what about the how they interact? We are opening a new very dangerous idea, but it is one thing to use them as a hand crew  or fire watch but to put them into people homes when they are in need is just not smart with all the problems that can go wrong. 


So Daniel if you were running a medical call or a car accident and found out the person was a convicted felon, either from the patient, thier prison ID, or someone else on scene would you stop working on them. Can you honestly say you would abandon your patient? Would you do the same if it came to your attention that the patient had HIV or another medical condition or was a member of some other sector of the population you feel is beneath you? Im pretty sure we all learned in our training from CPR to Paramedic, Volunteer Firefighter to Firefighter 2 whatever your level of training may be that we are to provided the BEST care to ALL people we come into contact with in all aspects of the job.


According to U.S. legal definitions, patient or medical abandonment occurs when a caregiver or health care professional fails to give proper care to a patient

Read more: Patients Rights & Abandonment |




What if they are a felon because they are a sex offender?  How can you categorize it?  They don't have the right to vote let alone pee in a cup.  How would anybody in their right mind want a sex offender to rescue their family members? I wouldn't want that.  The thought still lingers "what if"   You know sometimes you just have to go back to our core concepts, " An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"     Prevention , take it all the way back to the foundation.

My feeling is that firefighters are heroes. As altruistic as it sounds,  I would still  prefer Superman over Hancock any day.  

  I don't think my community would ever go for anything like this. We are too close to Washington DC and the political fall out would be worse than another earthquake/hurricane combined with a nuclear reactor sitting on top of the epicenter.  (oh wait we just had that!)  

 I also don't like the idea of having an armed officer supervising the cons. As soon as something distracts that officer the con bolts. A piece of falling debris falls and hits that officer takes him out and he is laying there in a heated environment with two clips of ammunition on his belt, one clip in the weapon.  All of a sudden you have an unsecured weapon because the cop is knocked out and moving him could cause the ammo to explode.  Prevention folks, prevention this scenario is preventable and nobody should have to deal with it.   I may be new to firefighting but I have an extensive background in Security.  What if a situation arose where the cop had to shoot the con and he missed and got one of the good guys instead?   How would you justify that?  How could anyone justify that?  Preventable?  Oh yeah!    Can that place really be so broke that they have to spend all of their common sense too? 

  I'd feel safer having the Boy Scouts in there, at least they would be there because they want to be, not because they had to be. 

Michael, these are non-violent offenders, no sex crimes and no arsonist. This program is a privilege with zero tolerance. If these guys get an attitude or miss behave in any way they are sent back in, never to have this chance again. The firefighters that supervise them are unarmed; again these are people that are in a trustee status. And before anyone goes crazy, how many calls do you run where there is no law enforcement on scene.

They are subject to shakedowns and pee test the same rules apply just as if they were inside the fenced in area of a prison, again no second chances, zero tolerance.

I worked, trained, eat and sleep with these people. None of my FF’s male or female has ever felt in danger. Most of the public can not pick them out of the group and they have shirts that say they are inmate FF’s. Most of the public has been very perceptive and once they see them in action have been very impressed.

They are required to be professional and respectful and handle themselves in this matter.

The people that are chosen are screened before they are offered this opportunity. It would do no body any good to allow the things to happen that everyone is spouting off about. This is not done in a half hazard manner because we have to answer and are accountable to our public.    

Please see my reply below to Michael. As far as replacing them this would be a community decisions but at least I would hope they will expanded and open more manned stations to provide better protection and coverage.     

Believe me I can understand your concerns; all I ask is ask your questions voice your concerns and listen with an open mind.  

If it is a cost savings measure it is essentially replacing paid firefighters. Many of these are currently vacant due to hiring freezes but it is still replacing. How is a a cost savings to man a volunteer station?  Now onto the underlying issue of inmates manning firehouses, this mentality has bad writen all over it. Progressive department's have pre-employment standards in place that would be jeopardized if we were to allow this type of employee. This has lawsuit written all over it. Good citizen, degree, no criminal background, polygraph, thorough background, medical, physical and emotional health.  So as others stated, throw this all away? Times are hard - yes, and I agree but the reason we have standards is so we avoid having to pay big dollars on the other end. Brian they may not be "hardened criminals" but whatever they did landed them in jail, so petty theft, robbery, fraud, DWI with or without a death are OK to be a firefighter? The honest hard working kid who didn't get the job last year should go down and lawyer up as a criminal now is riding in his seat. Go ask the police chief to take them onto his staff and you will get a explanation as to why you can't. We should have the same hiring and employee standards. By doing this you have opened the door to relinquish the public's trust. So if the guy gets into an accident, his background is going to come into play. Or is caught stealing or just accused of it. Bad move, and if times are hard for us, they are for the public and there are many taxpayers who love the civil court system.  

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