SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - They're typically behind bars but here, they're working with men and women they consider to be heroes.
"Cutting line, making a way when there's no way at all - and they are heroes you know, these captains," Robert Kass, an inmate from Cuesta Camp tells us.
From preparing four thousand meals each day for people staffed at the Alamo fire to even going out on the fire line, these inmates provide help to Cal Fire that would cost the organization millions of dollars statewide in resources if they had to outsource it.
"It's a tool in the toolbox and with the hand crews that we have, it's another tool that we can use to put on the fire line - if we missed that tool, we'd have to make up for it some other way," explains Richard Cordova, Public Information Officer for Cal Fire.
Not just any inmate can come to a camp like this, they have to be in minimum custody and go through thorough training.
Those precautions helps fire crews have a strong trust when it comes to arming the inmates with things like shovels and saws that could be used as a weapon.
"It's up to the Cal Fire Fire Captain to make sure they can build a good team and it's up to that captain that they build that trust between the inmate and between the pay staff of Cal Fire," Cordova says.
While the work may be tough and the hours may be long, these inmates say their families are proud of them for giving back to the community in this way.
"Making a difference.. it feels good. People just thanking us all around.. it's a good feeling," says Alex, an inmate firefighter at Cuesta Camp.