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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey’s newest task force aims to find ‘innovative’ ways to bring in revenue

McCallum says city’s revenue sources shouldn’t ‘completely rely on the taxpayer all the time’

Calling a snow day – or not – is a big decision for Surrey public schools

There’s much to consider before cancelling classes for 73,948 Surrey students

White Rock RCMP tells public to yield to pedestrians at marked crosswalks

Police force received a number of complaints about crosswalk safety

No Surrey Knights or White Rock Whalers on league all-star team

PJHL squad will battle Vancouver Island league standouts in Delta on Jan. 26

White Rock BNSF train whistles to be silenced by end of month

Whistle will sound if people or animals are on the track

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

Special prosecutor to review Cranbrook toddler drowning case

Evidence disclosure at issue in the case of a woman sentenced for criminal negligence causing death

UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses B.C.’s appeal in Trans Mountain pipeline case

Judges decide whether B.C.’s power to protect environment can include impeding a federal project

10 B.C. cities break temperature records in winter storm

Quesnel dipped to -41.9 C, breaking a record from 1916

Vancouver Island child struck, pinned under SUV while sledding

Boy suffers serious injuries, no charges laid in incident

VIDEO: Lower Mainland principal makes ‘Moana’-themed snow day music video

Kendra Simonetto parodied “How Far I’ll Go” to share weather updates with her students

Unprepared for chemistry test, B.C. student begs superintendent to call another snow day

The student from West Vancouver promised he would study more, but was distracted by skiing and hot chocolate

Over 16,000 people nabbed by RCMP between border crossings in 2019

In 2019, 63,830 claims were filed, up from 55,040 in 2018

Most Read