Friday, January 11, 2008

Chowchilla Inmates Refurbish 1927 Service Ladder Truck, Return it to City of Turlock for Community Functions

Vocational Auto Body Students Involved in All Aspects of Restoration

CHOWCHILLA – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) today presented an inmate-refurbished 1927 American LaFrance Quadruple Combination City Service Ladder truck to Turlock Fire, Inc., a non-profit organization, during ceremonies held at the institution. The service ladder truck was completely refurbished and restored by six inmates participating in the Vocational Auto Body Shop program.
The restoration project began when a Turlock firefighter saw the 1927 truck sitting idle for several years, thinking that Turlock Fire could restore it to its original luster. After approaching others in their organization with the idea, it was determined that the organization would take on the challenge. But how to get it done was another matter. They learned that another fire department had a truck restored, and the department was contacted. It was then that they learned that female inmates from CCWF’s vocational program had done the work.

For almost a year, six inmates assigned to the class worked on the restoration. They were involved in all aspects of the restoration, including reconstructing parts no longer available to applying the final paint job. In November 2007, two CCWF inmates assigned to the Vocational Automotive Services class took the Automotive Services Excellence (ASE) test; the institution recently learned that one inmate passed the test. The test is nationally recognized in the auto repair industry, which will enable the inmate to seek gainful employment when she returns to her community

“We are excited to return the truck to Turlock Fire,” said CCWF Warden Deborah Patrick. “It’s important to the city of Turlock and to Turlock Fire as it will be used for parades, school programs and other community functions. It also provided several of our inmates the opportunity to put their vocational skills into practice, increasing their odds of success for eventual reentry to their community and future job prospects.”

Turlock Fire officials anticipate that the truck will be displayed at Fire Station No. 1 in Turlock, which is building a new fire station to replace the outdated station currently in use. The city of Turlock put the fire truck into service in 1927 at the same fire station, where it was used until 1966. After being taken out of service, the truck sat idle for several years until the plan was set in motion to restore it. It is one of the few remaining operational fire trucks of this make and model.

“This project was very important to the inmates who worked on it,” said Warden Patrick. “They are very proud of their accomplishments and are thrilled to see that they are able to give back to the community, even while they are incarcerated.”

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