Firefighter and inmate Robert Kass saved the life of a Cal Fire captain, reports Sean Larsen for KEYT.
When a tree came crashing down, inmate Kass didn’t hesitate.
“Actually dove on top of him and covered him as the tree fell right there, so — it saved his life,” Cal Fire Captain John Schlickeiser said.
For Kass’ quick thinking, he just may get six months off his sentence, reports Larsen.
Kass, who works on the Cuesta Camp fire crew, humbly denied being a hero, stating, “I think God used me. He gets all the glory for that.”
Throughout California, fire camps give inmates a chance to learn life skills while they serve out their sentences. California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo formed the Cuesta Camp in 1962, and these inmates have been putting out fires ever since.
Qualified and proven inmates can become a part of the crew, like Jamal Ross, who was busted five years ago for robbery and sentenced to 10 years behind bars.
Ross, who has been on the fire crew since 2014, said, “I’m grateful to be able to repay with this time and my actions.”
According to Captain Schlickeiser, the camp helps inmates find meaning in their lives. The inmates say it’s much more than learning how to cut down trees and put out fires, reported the KEYT story.
Ross regrets the robberies he did but believes that fate is what brought him to prison so he could learn how to be a better person.
“I’m very at peace, because I feel like I’m growing,” Ross says. He’s now considering a career as a firefighter when he paroles. “I have a few captains that have already offered me recommendations, which I appreciate, from them.”
For inmates like Ross and Kass, fire camps and other prison programs provide a path to success that’s transferable once they have been paroled.