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The 'angels in orange' fighting California's fires

An inmate work crew builds a containment line ahead of flames from a fire in 2015. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Inmates serving time for nonviolent crimes in California make up 35 to 40 percent of the firefighting force, according to the Daily Beast.

Getting paid $1 an hour, the "convict crew" is comprised of those who volunteer. Bill Sessa, spokesman for the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, said there were 1,700 inmates fighting fires on Friday alone.

  • Inmate Joshua Coover, who helped fight fires in 2015, told the Easy Bay Times: "The best feeling is when we get off the fire; all the signs you see that say 'thank you, firefighters'...They even refer to us as the 'angels in orange.'"

Why it matters: The inmates are working the same hours as professional firefighters, and Sessa told the Daily Beast that $1 an hour is "the highest paying job for a California inmate and has rehabilitative value."