Maryland Nonprofit, Local Fire Departments Turn Old Fire Hoses Into Toys for Zoo Animals

Two volunteer EMTS launched the organization to help animals and eliminate waste

When Lisa Daly and Anthony Slamins were working as volunteer EMTS with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, they noticed that when fire hoses go out of service, they typically end up in dumpsters and landfills.

Now Daly and Slamins -- who have since become husband and wife -- run a volunteer organization that works to put these old fire hoses to a good use.

Hose2Habitat provides zoos, sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centers with toys and beds made from old hoses and other donated materials, said Daly, executive director of the organization. Based in Rockville, Hose2Habitat has kept "miles and miles" of hose out of landfills, she said.

"We take fire hose donations but now we also take other materials as well, all kinds of materials, PVC pipes and barrels and things like that, and recycle them into enrichment for what we call captive wild animals," she said. "We travel around and teach keepers of zoos how to make these things and then we facilitate donations... so [these materials] go to animals instead of into landfills."

Hose2Habitat sometimes makes its own toys to provide to the animals, but Daly said the organization has a larger impact when its members facilitate donations, travel to hold workshops and teach keepers how to make items themselves.

The organization receives donations from the surrounding areas and across the country, and has provided materials to the Smithsonian's National Zoo, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and about 100 other centers nationally, Daly said.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue recently donated at least 1,000 feet of hose that became toys for animals at Noah's Ark in Locust Grove, Georgia, Daly said. Boring Volunteer Fire Company (side note: yes, you read that right) in Reisterstown, Maryland also donated hose that became toys for the animals in Locust Grove.

"While [the animals] are there, we're going to make their lives more joyful," she said.

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