Did anyone see “Firelight”, the TV movie Sunday night on ABC about inmates at an all-female correctional facility who become members of a wildland firefighting hand crew? I missed it, but Cuba Gooding played a counselor who talks a group of incarcerated women into applying for positions on an inmate hand crew. It is a “Hallmark Hall of Fame” movie and will replayed on the Hallmark channel April 29 at 8 p.m. ET, May 5 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET, and May 6 at 4 p.m. ET.
Here is a 2-minute “behind the scenes” video about the movie:
The movie is based on the fact that there really are female inmate firefighting hand crews in California. The Rainbow Conservation Camp in San Diego County made history in 1983 when it converted from male to female and created female crews. Currently, in addition to Rainbow, the Puerta La Cruz Camp in San Diego County and the Ventura California Youth Authority Camp have women firefighters. There are a total of 197 inmate crews assigned to 41 camps in California.
Adult inmates assigned to the firefighter camps are carefully screened and medically cleared. Only minimum custody inmates – both male and female – may participate in the Conservation Camps Program. To be eligible, they must be physically fit and have no history of violent crimes. The average sentence for adult inmates selected for camp is less than two years and the average time they will spend in camp is eight months. After being selected, inmates undergo a vigorous two-week physical fitness training program and are then provided training for another two weeks.