Governor Jared Polis and Colorado's state legislature signed a bill on Thursday, April 15th, aimed at providing second chances and allowing ex-inmates to become firefighters.
The goal of Bill 21-012, dubbed the Inmate Disaster Relief Program, is to allow formerly incarcerated individuals with fire service experience acquired through the inmate disaster relief program to pursue a career in firefighting.
“It creates jobs and protects our communities from increasingly devastating wildfires that impact my district and communities all across the state,” Representative Dylan Roberts stated.
The bill requires the division to “develop materials to increase awareness of potential career opportunities, implement a peer mentor program, and require a wildland fires committee to review how State Wildland Inmate Fire Team (SWIFT) crews are being utilized and propose any necessary changes."
While not required, the division is encouraged to hire out these inmates upon their release.
The largest wildfire in Colorado history was the Cameron Peak Fire near Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer of 2020, burning 208,913 acres and destroying more than 200 homes.
A report from 9News says a crew of SWIFT inmates helped fight both the Cameron Peak and Deep Creek wildfires burning last summer in Colorado.