ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kurt Kamm has lived in Malibu CA for several years with his wife. He was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He is a graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School.
He has used his experience in several devastating local wildfires and access to CalFire and Los Angeles County Fire Department to write mystery novels about the lives of firefighters and paramedics. His first novel was One Foot in the Black-A Wildland Firefighter's Story, published in 2008. His second novel, Red Flag Warning - A Serial Arson Mystery, was published in May 2010. Red Flag Warning won three first place awards in mystery fiction.
Kurt has just completed his third novel, Code Blood, which features a rookie paramedic who is drawn into the underworld of Los Angeles after he loses his first accident victim.
He maintains an author/first responder website and blog at http://www.kurtkamm.com
The Female Inmates at Los Angeles County Fire Camp 13
It is not uncommon for states or counties to maintain fire camps for low security male prisoners, where they are trained in firefighting skills. More unusual is a camp for female inmates. In writing my firefighter mystery novels, I have had the opportunity to visit many of the Los Angeles County Fire
facilities. One of the most interesting is Camp 13.
Camp 13 is up in the Malibu hills, near a private golf club (!), and is run jointly by Los Angeles County Correctional Department and Fire Department. The women in the camp are nonviolent offenders. Most are serving sentences of up to five years for drug related offences, burglaries, identity theft or welfare fraud.
Camp 13 is low security, with ordinary chain link fences. The Camp Superintendent told me he could remember only one instance of an inmate walking away from the camp. For the inmates it is a source of pride to be there, and no one wants to jeopardize the opportunity.
There are approximately 110 women at the camp. They are chosen when they have less than half their sentence left and are not considered a flight risk. Most have approximately two years left to serve, and 5 – 10 are paroled out of the camp every month.
Each day at Camp 13 counts for three days served against the sentence. The inmates come from the Chino Institute for Women, which houses 3,000 inmates. At Chino, the prisoners are paid $1.70 - $3.60 for their prison work. At Camp 13 the women earn an extra $1.00 per hour. As distinguished from male prisoners,
there are few racial issues and no gangs among the women inmates.
There is a waiting list of up to 40 inmates, and the opportunity to go to Camp 13 is highly coveted. The women receive training at Chino before coming to Camp 13.
The facility looks like a beat-up summer camp for kids. It consists of simple one-story buildings which house the inmates, corrections officers, and fire supervisors. There are the usual dining halls, laundries, and limited recreational areas.
The women are divided into fire crews of 14. Their job is to cut fire lines and clear brush. They are transported to fires in the same type of fire crew truck used by other wildland firefighters. In many cases they work side-by-side with the paid firefighters on the firelines, although they are kept away from the most dangerous situations.
Two women in each crew operate 21 inch chainsaws (they are the“sawyers”), and one woman helps the saw operators (the “bucker”). The remainder wield shovels, Mcleods (a hoe-rake device, pronounced “mc cloud”) and Pulaskis (a chopping device similar to an axe). On the firelines, as well as at the camp, the women wear distinctive orange jumpsuits, which identify them as prisoners.
I have been out in the field with these women. They are proud of their work and work hard at it. It can be exhausting. They are encouraged and complimented by the firefighters who supervise them. It may be the first time in their lives they are accomplishing something and are getting positive reinforcement.
While the work at Camp 13 clearly helps build the self-esteem of the inmates, it is unfortunate that two-thirds return to the prison system.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Winner of a 2011 Public Safety Writer’s
In his chilling and suspenseful third novel, Code Blood, Kurt Kamm takes the reader into the connected lives of a fire paramedic, a Chinese research student with the rarest blood in the world, and the blood-obsessed killer who stalks her.
Colt Lewis, a young Los Angeles County fire paramedic responds to a fatal accident. The victim dies in his arms. Her foot has been severed but is nowhere to be found. Who is the woman, and what happened to her foot?
During a weeklong search, Colt risks his career to find the victim’s identity and her missing foot. His search leads him to a dark and disturbing side of Los Angeles…an underworld of body part dealers and underground Goth clubs. He uncovers a tangled maze of drugs, needles, and rituals which can only lead to death—but whose death?
Emergency medicine, the science of stem cell research, and the unsettling world of blood fetishism and body parts makes for an edgy L.A. Noir thriller you won’t want to put down until the last page!
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