The Fire Camp's paid program started in the early 1940s at Camp 2. The program was staffed with young men over the age of 18. Their job title was that of Fire Control Laborer. Their job responsibilities included maintenance of fire department facilities, installation and maintenance of fire breaks, fuel breaks, and assisting other County construction and maintenance crews. All crews at that time were ground based. In June of 1970 a Fly Crew program was initiated at Camp 9, Los Pinetos. Within the next two years other fly crews were assigned to Camp 2 (Arroyo Seco) and Camp 8 (Malibu) respectfully. In 2004, another paid crew was instituted at Camp 12 in the City of Saugus.
The County of Los Angeles Fire Department implemented Wildland Firefighting Hand Crews using incarcerated individuals in the early 1960s.
Camp 12 located at the Pitches Honor Rancho in the City of Saugus was the central camp. All county incarcerated personnel were assigned to Camp 12 for formal training. Types of training included were Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior, proper hand tool use, physical conditioning, and general construction skills. These individuals upon completion of training were assigned to road camps situated throughout the county. These camps were designated as follows:
These crews were responsible for road maintenance and construction with the County Road Department. They were responsible to maintain fire breaks in conjunction with the United Forest Service. Their daily duties included construction of and maintenance of motorways, fire breaks, culverts, water tanks, “Big and Little Macs”, fuel breaks, and plantations.
Inmate camp crews were supervised by a Camp Superintendent and Fire Construction Foremen. In 1964 they were officially incorporated in as part of the Fire Department. A change in title and classification for all supervisory overhead was implemented. The Camp Superintendent was now, that of the rank of Captain and the Fire Construction Foremen was that of the rank of Fire Fighter Specialist. These assignments could now be promoted into and transferred into from other fire department personnel.
In 1981, Camp 13 (Malibu) was the first of four fire suppression camps to open jointly with the California Department of Corrections (CDC), combining state manpower and resources within county facilities and county overhead.
This program became operational in the early to mid-forties in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Probation Department. These camps were staffed with wards of the court. They ranged in age from 15 to18 years of age. Their duties and responsibilities parallel that of the paid and adult inmate crews. They had their own training facility at Camp 1. Camp 1 was located at department headquarters in East Los Angeles. In the late 1950s the camp was moved to a facility in Bouquet Canyon.
When training was completed the wards were assigned to one of the following camps: