USA — VOLUSIA COUNTY — For the first time since the 1998 wildfires, county inmates are fighting fires alongside firefighters.
According to Assistant Chief James Mauney with Volusia Fire Services, inmates are a great help when conditions are bad.
“It’s a resource that we tap into in dire emergencies, and with our staff is limited or extended resources, we have to call out for outside resources that aren’t available. We bring them to the forefront, put them on the ground,” said Mauney.
The eight minimum security inmates are being supervised by Department of Corrections officers, who are cross trained as wildland firefighters.
Inmates, officers and Volusia firefighters are doing mop-up work at the 407-acre Little Hawk Creek brush fire on State Road 40 and S.R. 11 near Ormond Beach.
Fire officials said mop-up is important work because fires are smoldering several feet underground.
Workers shovel underlying brush, which is then watered down.
Muck, or underground, fires can ignite dry brush and trigger a flare-up, which unless it is quickly extinguished, can develop into a full break out fire.
Currently, Volusia firefighters and Division of Forestry rangers are battling almost 50 brush fires throughout the county.
Officials said having inmates help with mop-up work helps free up firefighters to continue battling those fires.
Mauney said inmates will continue mopping up the Little Hawk Creek brush fire until it is completely out.
Inmates are paid 50 cents a day for their efforts.