Serving the community & Saving lives: Inmate Firefighter Program at Smith State Prison

Inmate firefighters at Smith State Prison in Glennville suit up for News 3!


The Georgia Department of Corrections is giving inmates the chance to serve their time and serve their community.

The department opened a new fire station offering inmates the chance to become certified career firefighters on the Smith State Prison campus in Glennville.
News 3’s Courtney Cole made a visit to find out what it takes to make the squad.

“Firefighters have a brotherhood…”

And that’s something Brandon Waters says he’s learned since becoming a part of the Georgia Department of Corrections Inmate Firefighter Program.

“I’ve been a part of the fire department with corrections for a year now. There’s been a lot of intense training that goes a part of it,” Waters told News 3.

Training lasts six months at Smith State Prison in Glennville, taking inmates through Firefighter 1 & 2 Certification, Emergency Medical and First Responder safety, as well as Crash Victim and Extrication Training, before it’s complete.

“We want to be prepared whenever we show up on the scene to be able assist in any way possible,” said Waters.

Safely, in their gear of course…and with lots of practice they’ve learned how to get dressed in just two minutes flat!

“You push yourself to the limit, you see if you’ve got [it]—mentally if you have [it]—physically people, they tend to have more than what they think they do mentally…it’s mentally challenging, you take pride in it,” Waters said.

Shawn Wombles, the Manager of the Life Safety and Fire Services program says they take pride in the inmates, too.

“We go through a strict interview process, we go through some tests, we actually do a physical agility test as well. We really pick the best of the best to go into this program.”

A program Wombles believes teaches inmates like waters a lot about themselves.

“It teaches them teamwork, it teaches them compassion, it teaches them how to have a little bit of character.”

And of course it teaches them the skills they need to respond when disaster strikes.

The Georgia Department of Corrections Inmate Firefighter Program been successful for 53 years, with 19 other stations at prisons throughout the state with more than 150 inmates participating.

Click here to learn more about the program:

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