Firefighters finding extra helping hands from Snake River Correctional Institution

MERLIN, Ore. — With so many fires burning across the valley, firefighters are looking for as many resources as possible.

Oregon Department of Forestry is partnering with Snake River Correctional Institute to bring in extra people.

The Institute calls their men ‘adults in custody’ and gives them the opportunity to work at fire camps during fire season.

The men play a crucial role in keeping the camp clean, keeping fire fighters fed and and their morale upbeat.

Logan is from the Snake River Correctional Institute and prison officials asked us to use their last name only.

“Our role is to basically take care of firefighters when they come off the hill, make sure they have cold drinks, make sure they’re thanked, make sure they feel appreciated, they have food,” Logan, Snake River Correctional Institute, said. “We hustle for them.”

Logan is part of the Adults in Custody program.

The program gives the men different opportunities to get outside the facility, as work on fire lines, learn skills in the kitchen and provide support for the camp and crews.

“They really enjoy the opportunity to get away from the facility and come and give back to their community providing these services,” Sgt. Darren Thomas, Snake River Correctional Institute.

The skills they learn are vital to getting a job once they get out of their parole. They learn how to stock inventory and how to make their way around a kitchen.

“I’ve actually ran into situations where guys who have worked on my fire crew have actually gotten picked up,” Sgt. Thomas said. “I’ve seen them out on the fire lines with their civilian crews.”

Logan, for one, is happy to be getting these new skills but his real reward comes at the end of the day when he has that hard day’s work feeling.

“It gives us the perspective and idea that you really have a chance, that there’s something you can do that you’re going to feel good about,” Logan says.

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Blakely McHugh
Blakely McHugh is co-anchor of NBC5 News at Sunrise and spokesperson for In This Together, a suicide prevention initiative. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Blakely is a native of San Diego, CA. Blakely is excited to be in southern Oregon, a place that gets all the seasons and has similar temperatures to Arizona in the summer! When she’s not at work, you can find her relaxing at home watching TV and cuddling with her cat, Dallas. She also enjoys trying new places to eat and exploring the outdoors. Blakely loves meeting new people so if you see her out and about, say “hi!”