GRAND BEND, ONT. -- Decommissioned fire hoses that used to help fight forest fires are getting new life at the Pinery Provincial Park.

“This stuff would have been added to a landfill somewhere in Ontario, whereas right now we are essentially doubling, if not tripling it’s life expectancy,” says Alistair MacKenzie, Discovery and Resource Management Supervisor at the Pinery Provincial Park near Grand Bend, Ont.

Spools upon spools of decommissioned fire hose are finding a new use, as the base for these rolling boardwalks that now stretch across the park.

“The Pinery has about 9.5 kilometres of shoreline and lots of access points, so if we built an elevated boardwalk in all those locations, the cost would be astronomical,” explains MacKenzie.

So for the past several years, the Pinery has been deploying these fire hose-based rolling boardwalks to lead people to and from the shoreline.

MacKenzie says the fire hose, which they get from the Ministry of Natural Resources Forest Fire Division, is flexible and sturdy, allowing the boardwalks to follow the undulating contours of the Pinery’s sand dunes.

Another bonus -- they can be rolled up during the winter months saving wear and tear and on the construction of more costly “built-in” boardwalks.

“We expect we’ll be able to use these for some time, several years for sure, if not longer,” says MacKenzie.

The rolling boardwalks cover several kilometres of the Pinery now, and are catching on at other parks across the province.

“We’ve had a lot of inquiries from inside the Ontario Parks system and elsewhere. Municipalities and private cottage associations, are also looking for a way to provide safe and sustainable access, and there seems to be a ready supply of surplus firehose,” says MacKenzie.

Mackenzie says the use of the decommissioned fire hoses, and the ability to roll the boardwalks back up in the winter, make them an attractive and sustainable option for the Pinery and others moving forward.