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Public Safety, Virginia

Non-violent Virginians on probation trained in firefighting, prevention

Crystal Graham
vadoc firefighters buchanan county forest fire

The Virginia Department of Corrections, in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Forestry, has trained non-violent individuals on probation to fight wildfires and perform other fire prevention activities.

VADOC Officer Randy Bogle and seven individuals from the Appalachian Men’s Community Correction Alternative Program recently helped extinguish a forest fire in Buchanan County in March. While the forest fire was threatening the community of Vansant, no homes were lost during the fire.

Annually, VDOC trains approximately 100 people to take part in entry-level firefighting, including digging fire lines, back burning, monitoring hot spots and basic cleanup.

Training takes place at Patrick Henry Correctional Unit in Ridgeway, Wise Correctional Unit in Coeburn and Appalachian Community Correction Alternative Program.

The individuals are recertified annually.

“We are very proud of this program, the skills it teaches probationers, and the pride they receive from helping the community,” said VADOC Director Chad Dotson. “It’s a continuing example of the many different ways VADOC keeps those who live and work in Virginia safe.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.