Inmate Fatalities in CA


Hi all,

I am a journalist working on an article regarding California’s inmate fire camps. We are looking for information regarding inmate fatalities while fighting wildfires in the state, as far back as 1946.

We’ve checked most state and federal databases (USFA, NIFC, NFFF, etc) but I wanted to ask you all if you had ideas of where we should look to find more?

We’re also looking to speak with anyone who was in the Conservation Camp program or an attached CAL FIRE unit at the time of an inmate fatality, especially prior to 2016. Specifically, we’re want to identify an unknown death in 2000 or 2001 and a confirm an August, 2003 death in Riverside County.

Anything will help!



Try looking for the green sheet. It’s a report on what happened if there was something serious that happened on a incident. Cal Fire puts them out after the investigation is completed.

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Disclaimer. I am not validating the accuracy of the contents of this article, just sharing names to assist.


This one will require some research. Send me a direct message if you need more information.


This involved a paid crew not inmates. LA County Camp 2 is a fly crew.


Thanks for correction.

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A Google search does not pop you or a team up as a journalist. Care to indulge us on your status, intentions and qualifications?

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Thanks all, appreciate your help.

Kman, not sure how Google’s algorithm works on your end, but a quick search on The Nation’s website will pull up my bio with them:

You can find my work covering the Conservation Camps here:

What we’ve found in our current investigation is that there are dozens of firefighters who have died in the line of duty in California whose deaths have not been reported accurately or have not been recorded at all. We are worried that this has led to the mistakes and/or practices that caused those deaths not being properly addressed.

I appreciate you all offering advice.


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I just read the article Ryan Harvey refers to above. It is obvious to me that he and Truthout have an agenda. They want to “reform” the CalFire/CDCR Camp program to some how make it better. Never mind that every one of these inmates has committed felonies that have hurt many people. They want the State to pay inmates minimum wage. There also seems to be an implication that the Camp program uses these firefighters as some kind of “sacrificial lamb” and that injuries and deaths are covered up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every death and serious injury is investigated and reported on. If you check the injury/death rates for inmate vs free firefighters you will find that the rates are comparable.
Yes, they work “like dogs” but so do free firefighters. It’s not an easy job.
I worked for CalFire for 35 years. A portion of my time was in the camp program. I am very proud of the time I spent supervising inmate firefighters. We did good work together.
As an aside, for many (maybe most) of these firefighters the Camp program is the first time they have ever done anything productive and positive in their life. For many of them simply learning the skill of coming to work on time and having a good work ethic are huge accomplishments and will serve them well when they return to society.
Please keep in mind that they have committed crimes and have a debt to pay to society. This is how they pay their debt.


Beats a chain gang…


Hi. All journalists have an agenda, and many of them are writing articles for their employers, who also have an agenda. I wouldn’t have linked you to my article if I was trying to hide any of my views and opinions on the Conservation Camp Program. But I do my research.

I’ve interviewed a number of former participants who spoke of the programs benefits, which we spoke to in that article. If I was prison I would be the first in line.

We can disagree, but what I have asked is legitimate and what we have found is legitimate.

If you have ideas on how I can be proven wrong, please let me know, because I’m not out here to produce bad journalism. But I’ve spoken to and gone through the records of many agencies and there’s a lot of important information missing regarding inmate firefighter fatalities in California.


No sir good honest journalist do not have an agenda


" Impartiality Is the Source of a Newspaper’s Credibility"

Walter Hussman Jr, Wall Street Journal, 9/10/2019


“All journalists have an agenda.”

Not when it comes to producing slanted journalism pertaining to any of our fallen brethren and sisters. Or providing false information designed to remove or reduce a resource that provides direct line safety for ourselves and the public.


Hi, as I said, I’m not here to ask you to agree with my perspective on the prison system. But I do not provide false information, I do thoroughly researched work. That’s why I’m here to ask for information and resources, because I am exhausting all options to ensure I’m not printing false information.


When I file my story, I’m happy to post it here. I am the brother of a firefighter, and have great respect for the work you all do. But we’ve stumbled upon disturbing information that we are trying hard to understand, analyze and report.


So far, given your responses and your published article history, I see nothing that indicates anything differently than what @bcshort stated and what my prior statement said. The fact that you felt it necessary to attempt to change my viewpoint in not 1 but 2 separate responses suggests to me, at least that my post was precisely correct.

Whether or not your brother is a firefighter is completely immaterial to the discussion and frankly, I am wondering exactly what a musician, journalist and activist from Baltimore understands about California is general and more specifically, our wildland fires, the people who fight them and the correctional system which provides trained personnel on a purely voluntary basis to assist with the fire suppression efforts along with extremely vital other projects that they work on such as flood control, fuel reduction, fireline rehabilitation, fuel break construction, etc.

If you choose to provide the story to this forum, great, but as is fairly typical with activists, such as yourself, the end product is not expected to be anything but a literary hit piece on how we perform our jobs.


There’s no need to argue about it. I’m not hiding who I am, and I’m also publishing well researched information. You’re free to disagree with it.


I am trying to figure out what’s the big issue here. We’re all public servants, and a journalist wants to do a story. We may agree or disagree with the article however wouldn’t that be an opportunity to offer an opposing opinion? Head scratching.

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If it’s a hit piece, or your interview with the reporter is misquoted or under-representated, then post your copy of the interview here to show and help prove any obvious slant. Otherwise if this comes out as a scathing report that is true, and you did nothing but politicize it vs fix it, then…

In today’s polarized world, we need spotlights shined in every crevice to seek truth vs propaganda. As soon as he linked his bio and employer, he showed a lot of his cards. Some subject matter experts here could enlighten him, in an interview, and shed light on any truth and knock out any hit piece.

And as I said, if it becomes a hit piece a copy/paste of any email or transcript of phone interviews sent to his employer, letter to editer, online comment section, follow up stories etc could really put this guy’s reputation on the line. That’s called journalism. Their integrity is their life. Lose it, and their voice becomes silent. This is how society works. Don’t defend your side of the story, and risk someone else telling your side for you.