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Cal Fire condemns CBS show involving its inmate firefighter program

The organization released a statement insisting it was not informed of nor had any involvement with the creation of the show.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — Cal Fire is upset with CBS over a new television drama set to debut this fall.

CBS is planning to air a new television drama in 2022 called "Fire Country," about a group of prison inmates helping fight Northern California wildfires alongside Cal Fire. 

The program is one that Cal Fire actually uses, which allows for early release for its inmate firefighters.

However Cal Fire has released a statement denouncing the network and denying any involvement in the creation of the show.

“This television series is a misrepresentation of the professional all-hazards fire department and resource protection agency that Cal Fire is,” Cal Fire Chief Joe Tyler said. “The dramatization of inmate firefighters fighting members of Cal Fire is a poor reflection of the value of our Camps Program and the incredible work and leadership of our Fire Captains who supervise our hand crews.”

The show revolves around a convict played by actor Max Thieriot who seeks redemption after committing a serious crime by joining the inmate firefighter program through Cal Fire. In the trailer, there is a scene involving one of the inmates getting into a fight with a member of Cal Fire, which caught the attention of the department.

Chief Tyler, a 31-year veteran of Cal Fire, wants to emphasize he and his department do not endorse "Fire Country" and that the show does not represent the values of the Cal Fire staff. Cal Fire Union Local 2881 attempted to take legal action but was unsuccessful in getting the show pulled.

“While we cannot prevent this television series from airing, I believe it is important for each of you to hear from me directly that the Department was not involved in its creation or support," Chief Tyler said.

Despite not being able to keep CBS from airing "Fire Country", the department is now trying to reach an agreement between its legal team and the television network.

“Our Trademark attorneys are drafting a letter to CBS and the producers of the show,” said Cal Fire Union Local 2881 President Tim Edwards. “We are hoping to have a disclaimer added to the beginning and end of each episode stating that we had no part in creating this series and do not support the representation of our department in the show.”

"Fire Country" is scheduled to air its first season in Fall 2022 on CBS.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the views and positions of the the Cal Fire department and Cal Fire Union Local 2881.

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