PHOENIX, AZ –
May Tiwamangkala remembers mornings at Perryville Prison west of Phoenix, when the Wildland Fire Crew members began chanting and stomping their feet on concrete to let the rest of the prison know it was 5 a.m.
On their training runs, she recalls, one veteran on the all-women crew would shout, “Who are we?”
Her next shout: “Be phenomenal!”
“Or be forgotten!”
The Perryville crew is one of 12 17-person crews of incarcerated firefighters in Arizona, and the only crew of all women. But once crew members leave prison, they often face difficulty getting hired as firefighters, typically because they lack documentation of their work or can’t get required certification as emergency medical technicians because of their criminal records.
By: Catie Cheshire, Sinead Hickey and Miles Green