SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California officials are considering allowing inmates with violent backgrounds to work outside prison walls fighting wildfires, and the idea is generating concerns about public safety.

The state has about 3,800 inmate firefighters with no history of violent crimes. But that’s down from about 4,400 in previous years, so prison officials are looking for ways to add inmates.

READ MORE: 3 People Shot In Stockton, Investigation Underway

Starting next year, the corrections department is proposing adding inmates convicted of violent offenses if their security classification level has been reduced after years of good behavior.

READ MORE: UC Davis Mascot Change Vote Gets Endorsement From Congressman: 'It Must Moove On From The Old'

Officials tell The Associated Press they also are seeking to allow inmates who have up to seven years left on their sentences instead of the current five.

MORE NEWS: Key Lawmaker Warns At UFO Hearing: 'Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Are A Potential National Security Threat'

Arsonists, kidnappers, sex offenders, gang affiliates and those serving life sentences for murder and other crimes would still be excluded.