Inmates at the Nanaimo Correctional Centre participate in the Hose Wash Program, as part of the BC Corrections Fire Suppression Program. In 2017, inmates processed and repaired over 40,000 hoses. File contributed. (Province of BC)

Inmates help fight B.C. wildfires with hose repair program

Over 40,000 hoses are cleaned and repaired at a Vancouver Island correctional centre each year

As terrible as the recent wildfires have become in B.C., they have also brought communities together.

Firefighting crews from across the province have been dispatched to combat wildfires in the North and Interior parts of the province, volunteers have jumped in to help people and animals as they evacuate their homes, and donors from across the country have contributed to the Canadian Red Cross.

But, another community has also been helping – from behind bars.

Inmates at the Nanaimo Correctional Centre (NCC) on Vancouver Island are participating in the Hose Wash Program, an initiative that is part of the BC Corrections Fire Suppression Program, in partnership with the BC Wildfire Service.

ALSO READ: Firefighters ask public to ‘smarten up’ as they battle person-caused Nanaimo Lakes wildfire

The NCC is a medium-level prison housing inmates on Vancouver Island.

The Hose Wash Program sees inmates repair, clean and dry thousands of fire hoses from across the province, which are then returned and re-used by the wildfire service.

Between 25-50 inmates participate in the program, repairing upwards of 42,000 hoses per year.

“For me, this wasn’t just about making time pass. We got that it was important to a lot of people out there working the fire lines, so that really motivated us to get it done right,” said an inmate at the NCC in a statement, whose name could not be released. “Some of the guys even showed up on their days off. Keeping up my work ethic will help when I get out.”

RELATED: 200 out-of-province firefighters, support staff to arrive in B.C. in next week

In 2017 the program was extended to run on evenings and weekends so that more repairs could be done to meet higher demands.

This year over 27,000 hoses have been processed. And inmates at the NCC recently started repairing relay tanks as well, which are portable water tanks used by fire crews. So far in 2018 they’ve repaired 278 relay tanks.

“In efforts to support forestry we have increased the hours of our hose wash crew to include evening and weekend work. We have also increased our staffing levels to support and assist the work crews,” said Teresa Owens, NCC Deputy Warden of Programs in a statement.

“It is critical that we get the maximum amount of hose [sic] back into circulation as quickly as possible,” Owens said. “By performing this important work, NCC residents are able to give back to their communities and they are eager to contribute to the fire suppression efforts provincially.”

ALSO READ: Six Victoria firefighters head to B.C. Interior to combat wildfires

Inmates are paid between $2 and $8 per day to participate in the program. This means the cost of repairing a hose for the province is approximately $15, as opposed to $140 to buy a new one.

The hose washing program is not new; in fact it has been ongoing for more than 30 years. But services have expanded to do more than washing and drying, and now include repairs, splicing and testing.

The NCC is one of only four B.C. correctional facilities involved in the Fire Suppression Program.

Crews from the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre and the Prince George Regional Correctional Centre set up and take down firefighting camps, and assist with camp inventory and maintenance. Crews from the Ford Mountain Correctional Centre inspect, test and repair firefighting hand tools such as axes, shovels and fire rakes.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

B.C. budget committee calls for more Haida Gwaii ferry sailings

A special committee of B.C. MLAs wants the province to fund more… Continue reading

Gwaii Haanas celebrates new Land-Sea-People plan

Forty per cent of Gwaii Haanas marine areas protected under new, integrated plan

Tlellians show support for oceanside “glamping” resort

The Haida Gwaii Glamping Company made a compelling pitch in Tlell last… Continue reading

Choppy weather delays Haida Gwaii/Prince Rupert ferry

The Northern Expedition is delayed until further notice.

Get on it folks, says local MLA as referendum deadline nears

Haida Gwaii post offices got a small flurry of yellow referendum ballots… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read