The United States Forest Service employs nearly 30,000 people across the country and manages 193 million acres of public land. The Forest Service is an agency that operates under the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). From maintaining forested land in the Pacific Northwest to patrolling the desert in the southwest United States, helping people identify plants, to budgeting and planning the future of public land, the US Forest Service works on all levels to help maintain public land from Puerto Rico to Alaska.
Part of the responsibility of managing public lands is managing natural disasters. One of the biggest natural disasters that the US Forest Service faces each year is wildfires. Fighting wildfires is a season-long effort that typically lasts from May to October; however, wildfires can and do happen outside of this “season.” To help with wildfires, the US Forest Service has a program in place called the Wildland Fire Protection Program (WFPP).
The WFPP was developed to “defend people and lands against wildland fire through collaborative and comprehensive use of fire suppression, prevention, and restoration resources” and to address challenges that federal, state, and local governments face, which include fighting year-round wildland fires, escalating fire suppression costs, invasive species, and more. 2021 was one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. This severe season can be attributed to a few major factors:
- 2021 season began earlier than usual due to severe drought
- A late freeze in early 2021 damaged refineries in south Texas, limiting production for the required material for the hose
- This material was also designated in the production of syringes for COVID vaccinations, creating a bottleneck in hose production
NewView Oklahoma is proud to be the largest provider of hoses to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) who maintains inventory of new hoses for the US Forest Service. In 2021, during one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, NewView’s manufacturing employees, about half of which are blind or have low vision, produced and shipped more than 400 miles of hose which helped the US Forest Service fight over a million acres of forest fire.
Due to the severity of the 2021 wildfire season and the factors that were bottlenecking hose production, NewView Oklahoma worked in conjunction with NIB and the white house to achieve a Defense Priority rating under the Defense Priorities and Allocations
System (DPAS) regulation for contracts and orders to expedite the production of fire hoses urgently needed to support the US Forest Service’s WFPP. On July 30, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) endorsed the request for priority and forwarded it to the Department of Commerce (DOC), Bureau of Industry and Security’s Office of Strategic Industries and Economic Security for appropriate action.
NewView provides hoses for the DLA, who was assigned as the contract administrator. As a result, NewView was able to obtain the supplies needed to produce and ship 2,192,000 feet of fire hose. NewView provides training and employment to Oklahomans who are blind or low vision who then assemble, test, package, and ship the firehoses. Distribution is nationwide and includes places like California, where more than 5.4 million acres of land burned in 2021. The DLA contract has allowed NewView to provide meaningful career opportunities to Oklahomans who are blind or have low vision, paying them competitive wages and providing essential resources to the United States Forest Service.