The fire hoses being used on the front lines in California are actually assembled in Oklahoma City by visually impaired workers.
It’s part of a government contract fulfilled by NewView Oklahoma, which provides work for people who are blind and visually impaired.
“You know blind people do it by feel,” says Jessie Lester, who works on the assembly line that produces 800 fire hoses a day.
“They’ve got huge pride in their jobs,” says NewView VP of Operations and Business Development Dennis Loney.
NewView Oklahoma is the sole provider of fire hoses to the U.S. Forest Service.
“We are indirectly helping get those fires put out,” says NewView employee Chris Ervin about the California wildfires.
Only a few of the nearly two dozen fire hose makers can see. But the goal is to eventually have every station covered by a visually impaired worker.
NewView teaches visually impaired people other skills, but some remain on the assembly line for decades.
“It gives everyone a chance to show that we can come and work,” adds Ervin.
Last year, NewView employees assembled 4,000 miles of fire hoses.