One of the most absurd political moves degrading fire fighters comes this week from Camden County, Georgia, where lawmakers are considering using prison inmates to serve in the local fire department as a cost-cutting measure.
These inmates wouldn’t be guarded by prison staff while at the firehouse, but by fire department supervisors who would receive correctional training. Those chosen to work as fire fighters could have convictions including robbery, theft or drug charges.
The ridiculousness of this proposal seems obvious to everyone but the politicians who recommended it.
It is an unsafe, unwise and divisive -- in all, a VERY terrible plan.
Prisoners are in jail for crimes they committed and because they are a threat to public safety, so why would you allow these criminals to protect public safety? Would you put a pedophile in a day care center? There are plenty of jobs and apprenticeship programs available for inmates. Fire fighting should not be one of them.
Every fire department has background checks on potential candidates. So how do you tell an applicant that they could be denied employment for a misdemeanor like disorderly conduct and then turn around and hire an inmate?
IAFF Facebook fans are calling this the “dumbest idea ever.” Here are some of the comments:
Facebook fan: “This is brilliant... using inmates to help the vulnerable? Aren't they inmates BECAUSE they took advantage of the vulnerable?! And how do we "guard" these guys?! Have armed corrections officers riding on the fire trucks with them?!?! Utter joke. What's next, convicted sex offenders working in schools?!”
Facebook fan: “Just what I want coming into my house, a person convicted of theft and rampant drug use. The public places the highest faith and trust in fire fighters, it's hard to do that when that person has already been convicted of violating the public trust.”
Facebook fan: “What is the thinking there? This isn't a WWII movie like the Dirty Dozen where the prisoners can be sent on a suicide mission. Just another cost-saving plan hatched by someone with no understanding of our profession.”
Facebook fan: Georgia tried to get people on probation to pick cucumbers and it lasted all of about 45 minutes. They get paid to come up with shit like this? Where do I sign up?
Facebook fan: So I need to commit a crime in order to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a fire fighter????
But my personal favorite is from someone who wrote: “What rocket scientist came up with this idea? Instead of inmates, why don't they use the real scum of society: federal, state and local politicians.”
When will our elected leaders learn that you can’t scrimp on public safety because in the end everyone plays a terrible price.