The Elephant Hill wildfire was one of several this summer that contributed to the worst fire season ever recorded in B.C. (KTW file photo).

The Elephant Hill wildfire was one of several this summer that contributed to the worst fire season ever recorded in B.C. (KTW file photo).

Inmates play vital role in managing B.C.’s worst-ever wildfire season

Prisoners from Maple Ridge, Nanaimo and Prince George helped out

As British Columbia’s worst-ever wildfire season winds down, provincial inmates are being recognized for their help in the supporting the fire-fighting effort.

The Ministry of Public Safety says inmates from four correctional centres were instrumental in helping crews on the fire lines.

Inmates from jails in Maple Ridge and Prince George managed camp inventory and took part in setting up and dismantling base camps, while a crew from the Ford Mountain facility in Chilliwack inspected, tested and repaired tools, such as axes and shovels.

VIDEO: Kestrel chicks released into wild a happy ending to wildfire season

A ministry news release says crews from Nanaimo Correctional Centre repaired, cleaned and dried thousands of fire hoses, resulting in savings amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.

Inmates assigned to a crew have open-custody status, which means they can be trusted to work in the community under supervision.

In addition to significant cost savings, the ministry says the programs give participants meaningful, rewarding work experience.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says eligible provincial inmates understand the program because most come from B.C. communities and will return there when released, but he says the interest was especially high this year.

“Even more inmates than in past years rose to the challenge and gave all they could to help British Columbians during the provincial state of emergency. My thanks to both correctional centre staff and the inmate crews for their contributions during this very challenging fire season.”

The Canadian Press

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