The Invaluable Work of California’s Inmate Firefighters | The Daily Show
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Inmate firefighters are a vital part of keeping California’s wildfires under control, but they aren’t paid adequately or permitted to keep firefighting post-prison. Smokey Bear weighs in on the situation.
Subscribe to The Daily Show:
Follow The Daily Show:
Watch full episodes of The Daily Show for free:
Follow Comedy Central:
About The Daily Show:
Trevor Noah and The World's Fakest News Team tackle the biggest stories in news, politics and pop culture.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah airs weeknights at 11/10c on Comedy Central.

  • Adam Bovia
    Adam Bovia

    I worked with an inmate wildland fire crew in Arizona, my crew boss was a former inmate. The whole meat thing is B.S.. they can join the USFS, BLM OR most state crews. They EMT is more for structure firefighters. Just to clear that up! And yes I've had guys leave my crew and get great jobs with the USFS.

  • kgaccount

    Gov. Newsom is now cutting these inmate crews in California.

  • delvega2000 Trotsky
    delvega2000 Trotsky

    This dude funny as a female

  • Ryan M.
    Ryan M.

    Fight fire aggressively but provide for safety first.

  • Parth Trivedi
    Parth Trivedi

    In Pacific Ocean near ring of fire there is a rare ecosystem phenomenon called* Elnino*, its a low pressure system near Australia which is the reason for dry air flow at australia causing forest fire which has increased due to climate change and will only get worse

  • Cali Tapia
    Cali Tapia

    <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="19">0:19</a>Who else heard "laser's" at first

  • Sean Donahue
    Sean Donahue

    They are criminals. They are lucky to get what they get for fighting fires. They volunteer for it.

  • Arlo Pignotti
    Arlo Pignotti

    Will Australia let our ex-cons fight fires? Their nation was founded on inmates redeeming themselves, our ex-inmate Firefighters need the work and Australia desperately needs the help.

  • Robert Davis
    Robert Davis

    It's actually, bearist.

  • Joe Hunter
    Joe Hunter

    One dollar are you kidding me

  • Joe Hunter
    Joe Hunter

    My question is who or what is starting these fires because fires don't start them selves

  • Justice Boofer
    Justice Boofer

    Nevada inmates go to fight fires in California.

  • Bigfoot 2015
    Bigfoot 2015

    Do you KGsofts has to push this shit? because only brain dead idiots are watching it!

  • miguelpancho45

    cali saves with inmate slaves

  • Johan Madetski
    Johan Madetski

    Noah is a useless fucktard.

  • and62425

    What they don't tell you is their only allowing. Protective Custody to do this. The child molesters, rapists. Snitchs.

  • Dianna D
    Dianna D

    The inmates can work after fire camp (prison) for national parks service as a firefighter.

  • Gh0stNoName

    In America we have an issue with continue punishment after one has served their sentence. Makes you wonder if they just want you to go back to a life of crime.

  • bdonohueCA

    Trevor, I love this show, I'm 30 now and I've been watching it since I was 12 and my dad was still around. There are more than enough willing civilians who are ready to participate in fighting CA wildfires, but the process for getting hired as a firefighter in CA is rigorous and ruthless. Even for a perfectly law abiding "clean" candidate, it can take upwards of 10 YEARS to land a job, if they keep at it. My dad was a Captain for LACoFD. I have been a paramedic in a high volume "ghetto" 911 system as a primary ALS provider for most of my professional career. It is still extraordinarily difficult for someone with my credentials to obtain a fire job. I no longer have a desire to do so but have seen a lot of my peers go through hell trying. I support a lot of what you're saying on this show but please do some research before you cry about some criminals not being able to get a job. By the way we work for 15 bucks an hour as paramedics who come and save your ass at 0300h. Not even close to an acceptable livable wage. If you want a sob story... interview private ambulance medics in southern california; treated like dogs, running 911 for 24-72 hours straight, no breaks, no sleep, with IFTs at all hours while trying to take care of a city of a quarter million. I doubt you've ever stayed awake for 3 days and had to deliver cardiac meds through an EJ or IO or dealt with sever multi-system trauma at hour 60 but it's way harder than working at Trader Joe's or McDona'ds, which is the wage we're compared to. I know you won't read this or pay any attention to it, but I just gotta get our two cents in. Military advantage is one thing, prisoner hand crew advantage is totally different. It's all well and good that these guys get some time outside of a cell and directly repay their debt to society for the work they do, but for someone who has never touched an illegals substance in their life with the conscious thought of wanting a fire service job to be disadvantaged when going up against someone who has had the opportunity to cut line for personal gain without ever running a call is not fair. Again, nobody's gonna listen but I'll be there to keep your heart beating at 3am and that's a majority of what the job entails. Peace.

  • Class Act
    Class Act

    You know "Madame Battlefield" Democrats do like their SLAVES, and California is Democrat Country. They also like their Epic Fail Forestry Policies👍

  • Edmond Cristian Razmerita
    Edmond Cristian Razmerita

    It would have been so cool if at the end of the interview with Smokey, it was Desi Lydic in the costume, and she pulls the head off, freaking Trevor out XD. Or they would "forgot" to stop rolling, and then Desi takes the head off. Missed opportunity, oh well :)

  • CannibalClone89

    My parents met while they were fighting fires while incarcerated. My dad was spitting game to my momz when he should have been doing back burns.

  • Ian W.
    Ian W.

    Yes.. Thank god for expendable labor. These people finally have a use.

  • Stu Fields
    Stu Fields

    I was on a fire where there were 25 inmates from San Quentin prison. One thing I found, it was smart for me to get out of their way. They were a professional fire fighting crew who would start walking and at a walking pace would leave a path to the ground in back of them. They had stories...Whew..... They also had some sharp knives which were very handy to cut the meat that was delivered via parachute to our fire location. Bottom line I was impressed.

  • Marscheesteak Andcrepes
    Marscheesteak Andcrepes

    This guy is always making fun of everyone in our country. Why don't you get the fuck out of here if you dont like us. Fag boy

  • Hamer51

    But what about dealing with the trees the Australians sold California that keep setting themselves on fire which constantly ignite more forest fires perpetually worsening the issues

  • thublit

    I think he means state owned slaves or at the least indentured people. Especially in CA. the guv has run wild. The "penal" systems war on the family/drugs is absolutely evil.

  • Jake Mcewen
    Jake Mcewen

    Those inmates are being robbed. Federal min wage is 7.25. I think some crimes are being commited...

  • dma69nyc

    That's the exact same reaction I had when I first saw Smokey take the mask off. Glad it wasn't just me.

  • KingOfGames

    <a href="#" class="seekto" data-time="105">1:45</a> I definitely thought that guy was Bill Nye just based on the sound and cadence of his voice

  • James Yakura
    James Yakura

    "Wildfires. As the climate changes and the land becomes drier..." Sounds dire. Perhaps we should aspire to avoid this briar, even if it means we retire some of the power we desire.

    • ffandrewd


    • Morgan Gallagher
      Morgan Gallagher

      James Yakura this is actual fire 🙌🔥

  • Cheshire Kat
    Cheshire Kat

    I'd say that whether or not a convicted felon should be allowed to become a firefighter, after he or she has served their sentence, depends on what crimes they committed. Firefighters interact with children a lot; so I'd say that no one who has been convicted of rape, or child-molestation (or attempted rape or child-molestation), should be allowed to become a firefighter.

  • Lup Domnitor
    Lup Domnitor

    America was built on the foundation of discrimination.

  • CheaterCheater

    Who all thought Smokey was going to take off his head and be a hot woman. Lol

  • Altrantis

    Where I'm from, firefighters don't get paid anything even though they're not prisoners.

  • Paraplegic octopus
    Paraplegic octopus

    Those Smokey ads were fire!!.... Oh, shit, wait..

  • doom2avatar

    They can be firefighters. Not all systems have combined fire+EMT. There’s good reason to be skeptical of past criminal history for medics. There is a pile of strong narcotics sitting in ambulances and you have to trust the medics to not use or sell that.

  • Samantha Des Jardins
    Samantha Des Jardins

    When we had the fire in Napa, people of Napa were told not to talk to inmate fire fighters nor were they allowed to take refreshments citizens brought. I heard people being yelled at for thanking them.

  • Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson

    Modern day slavery....its bullshit..

  • SillyNa Cannada
    SillyNa Cannada

    There’s no profit in ex cons being legit. That’s all it boils down to. Pun intended.

  • Saiyan ForLife
    Saiyan ForLife

    So where supposed to teach the inmates how to stand on their feet after they served their time. But when they get out and find a new passion, the people in charge say, no no choose something else, you know something that doesn't involve helping others. Screw that non sense. Being a paramedic myself, first responders are short staffed. Let them work a job that not many are willing to do.

  • derp herp
    derp herp

    Let California burn , this is self inflicted. They made their bed, let them burn in it.

  • E S
    E S

    I remember living in Marin Co CA til last Dec. Inmates from San Quentin rescued people in trouble on a small boat on SF bay in the AM one night

  • orry townes
    orry townes

    Plus Bear-Face?! Animalist!

  • Larissa D
    Larissa D

    That is some BS doing those inmates that way.

  • Merrick Gould
    Merrick Gould

    Yes from a firefighter

  • Chris Pontius
    Chris Pontius

    So America's economy is still based on slavery. What else is new?

  • Dawn alexander
    Dawn alexander

    Thank God for the inmates for being there on the front line they are true Hero's God Bless all the firefighters 🙏🙏

  • Carlo Jones
    Carlo Jones

    Make special forest firefighters unit where EMT's work not part of this job. So some convict wouldn't be medic's , picking the pocket of heart attack patients they're treating . Need more creative policy makers. If some professions were not so hard to get into many people wouldn't have turned to crime. In California you need a special certification for lots of thinks but some just to collect public money.

  • Icare

    The prisons is a money making machine that rely on inmates to return to the system, why else would they not grant a chance or change the rules once these guys have served their time....keep your feet on their necks all the way to the bank.

  • SulphuricAcidForTheSoul

    Why dont you address the issue of arson instead of blame global warming you asshole

  • Felicia Gardner
    Felicia Gardner

    As someone who live near where the carr fire was, I am so appreciative that inmates did this. I was extremely pissed when I learned avout this from a cal fire volunteer. I think they should help those that fought fires get into the program for certification if they want to. And they should get paid like anyone else to do it in jail.

  • Sade Jones
    Sade Jones

    Prison = slavery

  • ike eki
    ike eki

    prison labor is an abhorrent scheme that exploits people and keeps them in a subjugated state. it could be an empowering and rehabilitative approach to crime, but not on those wages and not when they are forbidden from using these life-saving skills outside prison.

  • insouciantnt

    To punish and enslave 👌

  • aura floo
    aura floo

    You know, I'm pretty sure I'm a minority in this thread but I don't get it. You feel bad for people in prison? They are in prison for a reason. You feel bad for rapists, murderers, thieves etc? Are you kidding? Can you imagine being a rape victim being told that the person who hurt you is getting off early because he was nice and kept to himself on jail? That's bullshit. What about a person who took the life of someone you love. You're NEVER getting that person back. They'll never see the next generation of the family, no weddings, no reunions no anything but yet the murderer DESERVES a better life. I'm sorry but this world is screwed up! American prison is too laid back in my opinion.

    • Aarotron 777
      Aarotron 777

      @aura floo When it comes to thinking yeah unfortunately California is in a world of it's own Haha The sad part is those who are quick to defend and whine about the convicted paying there dues back to the state are silent about the treatment of law abiding citizens who are treated like trash such as military veterans.

    • aura floo
      aura floo

      @Aarotron 777 It doesn't make sense! I'm reading and these ppl feel bad about prisoners in the fire crew not getting great benefits, money and better time off. Seriously?! Did they forget that these are BAD people? is California really soooo different from NYC? I mean this is polar opposite thinking.

    • Aarotron 777
      Aarotron 777

      This is California, truth be told "victims" don't mean anything. We live in an age where doing wrong is rewarded & doing right you are considered a sellout or some form of evil. The media sells false narratives and people buy into it.

  • ToniHunterOne

    I have one of the original large metal Smokey road signs!

  • ToniHunterOne

    that is shitty!

  • Chrissyce

    They should be allowed to get EMT training in prison for free while they are in the program at the very least. The laws should also be changed to allow them to be able to get a job afterwards. They can make special provisions for the inmates that fought the fires.

  • gobanito

    Non-violent offenders should be allowed to become firefighters professionally after serving time as an inmate firefighter.

  • Re dacted
    Re dacted

    Americans have the weirdest fucking ads.

  • tenacious645

    They also can't vote. It's bullshit.

  • Patricia Handa
    Patricia Handa

    I read one time that 1 in 3 young black men will spend some time in jail. Then we wonder why more aren't legally employed. 😕

  • abbsnn cose
    abbsnn cose

    That’s basically slavery with a loophole.

  • sweet lawd baby jesus
    sweet lawd baby jesus

    Smokey bear is an ecoterrorist. Fires like this are caused by a lack of nutrients and water due to smaller plants like shrubs that grew and weeds. This makes it so it is more common to see fires like these and more fuel is available to the fire, causing it to no longer and stronger.

    • doliio volay
      doliio volay

      America wants to make money off of slavery. It also wants to keep people in prison.

  • Ray B
    Ray B

    So are you want8ng to commute sentences? NO!!! Crimes were still committed and for the criers saying. "These pooor criminals reoffend because EMPLOYERS and THE NEIGHBORS in the NEIGHBORHOODS in which you would want these criminals to live in have the right to demand knowledge of an individuals passed....its sooooo wrong!" Screw you criers, advocates, whiners and pissbags.YOU invite convicts into your home. YOU reform them. Stop expecting so much out of Society. For society itself is made up of People...Good or Bad.

    • abbsnn cose
      abbsnn cose

      month by fighting fires.

  • Melissa Sigua
    Melissa Sigua

    Yes they get paid little but it costs a lot to pay for them in prison, an avg of 30-40 k plus they get a sentence reduced. At the same time they should be able to become fire fighters after if they wish to do so. Clearly they were good for job when in prison and should qualify after, that’s just messed up. They paid their debt!

    • doliio volay
      doliio volay

      absolutely flipped!

  • Intercat

    How to avoid wildfires in California? Live in a world where a man from Missouri isn't encouraged by Trump's viciousness to go to California and start a fire. (Freddie Owen Graham, the Reservoir Fire, 20Sep2019. )

  • Jay Gagne
    Jay Gagne

    This is slavery

  • qopoy dnon
    qopoy dnon

    "Only you and cell block d can prevent forest fires." I died lol

  • Nathan Springer
    Nathan Springer

    This just in: California on fire.

  • Samuel Rosander
    Samuel Rosander

    Sadly, reason is lacking in that department. Most societies punish people for life. We're all about punishment, not rehabilitation. Some places actually put in the effort, but we are not one, for many reasons. One, your actions define you (usually), just as your race and sex and religion define you, and nothing you say or do will change that identity for most people; we're programmed to be tribal that way. Two, there's a lot of money to be made by not giving people a legitimate second chance (helping convicts learn to be productive and good members of society, and then giving them the chance to be once they do their time), and a lot of money to be saved by underpaying them, but the chance that your organization's image will suffer because of the past of the employees. And this isn't even considering the crappy and overloaded system we have that makes it hard for the poor to get good or even adequate representation, or the plethora of other issue inherent to that system. We just don't believe in second chances like we claim to.

    • qopoy dnon
      qopoy dnon

      You ppl are so full of shit, the moment you become a victim you want the offender to burn on a stake... you privileged hipocritical fucks.

  • Samson ben
    Samson ben

    Modern Day slavery. I'm a slave I just know it. Prisons filled with mostly Blacks & Hispanics interesting sounds like slavery to me whether your in prison or out of it still slavery from red lining to school to prison pipeline you oppress slaves so they never rise but make them think they are included. Deception only the DEVIL does that & when I kill you you have to forgive your slave master was beaten into so called blacks & Hispanics forced to do what they do as a slave now we stuck its called destruction. Integration was one of the worse things to ever happen to us at least we stuck together when all we had was each other now we so destroyed a black man can't even recognize his own brother that he's killing. & with the deception this country still says slavery is over lies. This country is going to get what's coming to it.

  • TheUgly Piña
    TheUgly Piña

    ooo the poor criminal ... i killed a family of 3 but the govern is the bad .... nice . You can do what you wan't but you pay the price ...

  • Cuda

    Structure fire requires an emt most of the time. Wildfire doesnt.

  • Major LeeStoned
    Major LeeStoned

    Imagine living in such Demorat shithole that they need to force inmates to fight fires.

  • Da’Ladybug E
    Da’Ladybug E

    Wonder if Rehabilitating People would Ever Be Part of a Rehabilitation Center 🤔

  • Melanie Schwartz
    Melanie Schwartz

    All of you talking about this being good option for inmates to get jobs after. Well in fact they do. The Juvenile system has a program that will allow them to become a firefighters, they are housed at the Pine Grove facility in CA. The youth that murdered my daughter and shot another person 2 days before that will have the opportunity to be in this program. Yes a murderer who has no remorse and continues to be involved with his gang inside the juvenile detention facility released back into society mascaraing as local hero firefighter. Give some thought to the fact that my daughter gets no second chance nor do I, her sisters, her friends all that loved her we get no second chance...guess the murderer is all that matters to you people.

  • Logical Juan
    Logical Juan

    Look. I get it, "They are a criminal, so if I hire them, they'll(insert crime here) again". You know, Prisons are SUPPOSED to be about not only punishing, but reforming. I would rather them be able to use their abilities to work and rebuild their lives. I don't know about you, but I'd like the idea of giving them the tools to turn things around, than throw them out to the dogs with a mark and end up re-offending, because what else can be done.

  • Nhi Hoang
    Nhi Hoang

    These people are being exposed to trauma and harsh conditions for 1-2 dollars? Then after they won’t even be able to become a firefighter after?? The morals in this country are absolutely flipped!