Daniel R. Munsey, Fire Chief/Fire Warden
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Inmate Hand Crew

SBCoFD has five inmate hand crews whose main objective is responding to fire suppression incidents.

The first county Inmate Hand Crew, Glen Helen Crew 15-1, was formed in June 2013 from a partnership between San Bernardino County Fire Department (SBCoFD) and Sheriff’s Department.

In Nov. 2015, SBCoFD and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department partnered to form the county’s first female Inmate Hand Crew, Glen Helen Crew 15-9. 

Today, SBCoFD has five inmate hand crews whose main objective is responding to fire suppression incidents. They are also tasked with assisting with local fuel reduction programs and chipping operations, assisting other county departments, and responding to other types of emergency operations such as sandbagging and flood recovery. 

All hand crew members undergo training in wildland fire suppression techniques, basic Incident Command System, confined space awareness, first-aid, CPR, chainsaw training, small engine and facility repair.

The Inmate Hand Crew program provides many benefits to the department and community at-large. Inmate hand crews allow the county to maximize its resources during peak fire seasons, improve cost efficiency in providing fire services to the public, and bolster rehabilitation efforts for our incarcerated population. Inmate hand crews have also played a role in community beautification efforts. In Feb. 2016, the Needles Downtown Business Association decided to help restore a historic landmark, the Needles Wayside Rest Area. Glen Helen Crew 15-1 lent a helping hand by removing invasive vegetation and bringing the aesthetic appeal of the landmark back to what it once was.

inmate hand crew

To qualify for the crew, inmates must be a low-level offender (no criminal history of violent, sexual, or serious violations); must have 15-18 months sentence left to serve; no documented gang affiliation; no prior discipline; and must not be a flight risk. Inmates remain under constant supervision while deployed in the field.

The Inmate Hand Crew program is another valuable resource in SBCoFD’s arsenal of firefighting tools.