Contributed File Photo: Members of a state prison wildland fire crew work on a fire last year. Fire crews have recently been deployed to battle new fires this year.
PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry has deployed six Wildland Fire Crews from Winslow, Florence, Lewis, Yuma, Tucson, and Safford Arizona State Prison Complexes to help fight the Bighorn Fire outside of Tucson and the Tonto National Forest Bush Fire.
Through a partnership between the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management and ADCRR, each crew is made up of low-level offenders from state prisons. Currently, 113 inmates are actively fighting the fires. The crews, deployed under the direction of State Forestry and ADCRR staff, are all trained to be professional wildland firefighters. Some have also achieved advanced qualifications such as Firefighter Type 1, Sawyer, and Crew Boss. Each year, the crews work during wildfire season to help with suppression efforts as well as brush abatement outside of the fire season.
Early in the management of COVID-19, ADCRR restricted outside work crews as a precautionary measure. Due to the size of the fires, significant resources are now required including the deployment of ADCRR Wildland Fire Crews. ADCRR has implemented precautionary COVID-19 measures for our fire crews who will work and be housed separately from other firefighter crews. Upon completion of their work on the fires, the ADCRR Wildland Fire Crews will be quarantined, monitored for any symptoms for 14 days, and undergo COVID-19 testing to ensure they are free of COVID-19 prior to returning to their respective complexes.