The sole supplier of fire hoses to the U.S. Forest Service is an Oklahoma not-for-profit.
Workers on the group’s Oklahoma City production lines crank out about 60,000 fire hoses a year, writes The Oklahoman columnist Bryan Painter:
The hose comes to NewView, employees cut it to the proper length, add couplings, stamp information on the sides and then roll and box the hoses and ship.
NewView Oklahoma has been assembling fire hoses for about 12 years, and all the workers are blind or visually impaired Oklahomans.
Before he started with NewView — formerly Oklahoma League for the Blind — Larry Troxell spent his days sitting and “rotting,” he tells Painter.
“These people down here gave me the opportunity to come in and be a member of society again,” he said. “I could actually associate with my co-workers here and make money and be a productive part of society again.
Troxell enjoys earning a salary, but tells Painter the real value is his role in providing important equipment for public good. For example, fire hoses he helped assemble were recently used to battle devastating blazes in Colorado.
“When we actually couple them we make sure in our own mind that these things do not leak,” he said, “that there’s not defects in them when we let go of the hose and send it over to the next stop and go on down until it’s packaged and out the door. That’s our goal here is zero defects.