The California Institution for Women (CIW) recently saw 10 graduate from the three-week Fire Crew Firefighter Academy.
The graduates will serve their communities at either Puerta La Cruz or Malibu Conservation Camps until they parole. Participants in these camps assist with wildland fire suppression, flood response, and other emergency disasters.
Formerly incarcerated firefighter Jodi Olson, now employed by CAL FIRE, was the guest speaker.
She encouraged the graduates and firefighter trainees to push themselves, saying anything is possible if you put in the effort.
“About 10 years ago, I made a very selfish decision to drink and drive,” Olson recalls. “This thoughtless action resulted in the loss of a precious life and the destruction of a family unit. (It also) changed course of events for my own.”
She credits the firefighting program with helping her turn her life around.
“Thanks to the skills, training, knowledge, and mentorship of the rehabilitation program at Central California Women’s Facility Firehouse, I was able to overcome this ultimate low point in my life. Then, I achieved employment opportunities within the fire service. Upon my parole, I was hired as a firefighter with CAL FIRE. I continue to ‘pursue goals within the agency.”
Turning negative experiences into life-changing moments
“It is because of the hard work that I put into the Firehouse program, and the motivation that I could turn negatives into positive that I was able to achieve these goals. While I can never return their loved one back to them, I strive to honor my victim and their family by living each day with honor and integrity,” she said. “It was with complete humility and gratitude that I was able to give back to a pivotal program for my life by being asked to speak at CIW’s firefighter graduation class prior to their departure to camp. I hope they can also overcome their past and move forward on a positive life path by utilizing the challenges, experiences, and opportunities that are available to them at a conservation camp.”
By Lt. William Newborg, AA/PIO
California Institution for Women