Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bill allowing inmate firefighters to become professional firefighters once released

Local News

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Governor Gavin Newsom – toured the aftermath of a wildfire in Butte County. It’s just one of the dozens of wildfires burning in California.

Over 14,000 thousand firefighters are battling the fires, some of whom are inmates.

The governor – signed a new bill into law on Friday – giving them the right to one day become professional firefighters.

It is a way for inmate firefighters to become professional firefighters once they are released from prison. The first step is becoming an Emergency Medical Technician. The application requires them to disclose if they’re a convicted felon.

Former inmate firefighter, Francis Lopez spoke on his experience when he was battling fires while also being an inmate.

“For me, I wanted to become a firefighter, but I knew that I couldn’t because I had a felony and I had to get an EMT and I had two felonies on my case, so if you have two felonies or even a felony, you can’t apply for your EMT,” Lopez said.

“I put all this effort all this work, I was on the front lines, blood, sweat, tears, I got a scar on my face from falling. You know we were really there on the fields.”

Former inmates convicted of violent offenses including arson, kidnapping, and rape would still be barred from having their records expunged.

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