Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

New California Law Opens Doors for Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters

Climate
New California Law Opens Doors for Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters
Inmate firefighters arrive at the scene of the Water fire, about 20 miles from the Apple fire in Whitewater, California on August 2, 2020. Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images

Incarcerated people who fight wildfires in California will be better able to work as firefighters after returning home under a new law.


Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill Friday, which will allow former inmate firefighters to petition courts to expunge their records and waive parole time — removing barriers to getting jobs fighting fires professionally.

Formerly incarcerated people were barred from obtaining EMT licenses, effectively preventing them from advancing in careers as professional firefighters despite their obvious qualifications.

Inmate firefighters perform life-threatening work alongside professional fire crews while receiving just dollars per day.

Michael Gerbe told NPR he expects the new law will change his life.

Gerbe, who was convicted of robbery when he was 19, worked to contain the Thomas Fire, the Mendocino Complex Fire, the Ferguson Fire, the Carr Fire, and the Camp Fire in Paradise.

Now that he will be eligible to obtain an EMT license, Gerbe said, "I could be of more help, I could be of more assistance.

So the news is huge, and it's not only huge for me, it's huge for the community I serve, because with me being an EMT, I could do more for the community that I serve."

For a deeper dive:

NPR, AP, KPBS, San Diego Voice, Witness LA, KQED, Fresno Bee, KCBS Radio, KTLA, Earther, CNN, CBS, NBC, Vox, The Guardian, Axios, Business Insider, The Hill, KESQ, Malibu Times, ABC7; Commentary: San Francisco Chronicle, Sarah Shourd op-ed

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

People Have the Power - VOTE 2020

Climate-action nonprofit Pathway to Paris first launched in 2014 with an "intimate evening" of music and conversation after the People's Climate March in New York City.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Heo Suwat Waterfall in Khao Yai National Park in Thailand. sarote pruksachat / Moment / Getty Images

A national park in Thailand has come up with an innovative way to make sure guests clean up their own trash: mail it back to them.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The 2020 presidential election poses a critical test of climate conservatives' willingness to put their environmental concerns before party politics. filo / Getty Images

By Ilana Cohen

Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.

But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.

Read More Show Less
Headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva amid the COVID-19 outbreak on Aug. 17, 2020. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Read More Show Less
Exterior of Cold Tube demonstration pavilion. Lea Ruefenacht

By Gloria Oladipo

In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch