HESSTON — An elephant's trunk can hold 2 1/2 gallons of water, but when you need more than that to put out a fire, a fire hose is called for.
Hesston Fire Department's fire hoses are inspected each year to ensure they can withstand the pressure of the water flowing through them.
"We make sure it's always ready to do its job," said Hesston Fire Chief Russ Buller.
The Hesston Fire Department recently donated old fire hoses it could no longer use to the Sedgwick County Zoo.
Over time, fire hoses can develop weak spots and holes.
"A fire hose does wear out and eventually is beyond repairable," Buller said. "We can't use it anymore. It doesn't wear out quickly but, at some point, the outer jacket gets worn."
Having heard that the Sedgwick County Zoo used old fire hoses in their exhibits, he called to see if they would want the ones that were no longer of use to the Hesston Fire Department.
"We weren't sure who would be able to use it, but we checked with the zoo," Buller said. "They were very happy to receive that."
Buller said the old fire hoses were five inches in diameter.
"We sent them seven sections, and each section is 100 feet long," Buller said.
Each section of hose weighs roughly 100 pounds.
"We oftentimes get donations of fire hoses to be used in exhibits and for the enrichment of our animals," said Sedgwick County Zoo's Public Relations and Marketing Manager Melissa Graham.
The fire hose is useful for the zoo because it is versatile and can be used to create many different types of objects for animals to interact with.
"They've learned how to weave them in incredible ways to make them into vines to look more naturalistic," Graham said.
Fire hoses have also been repurposed into hammocks, bridges, beds, climbing structures and feeding devices for several of the zoo's animals.
"It's durable and pliable and they can make so many things out of the fire hose," Graham said. "The zookeepers' creativity knows no bounds."
Not only is the hose made to last, holding up as animals climb on it, but has another benefit as well.
"You can also hose it off and clean it," Graham said. "It's made to get wet."
The fire hoses can end up in the enclosures for primates, gorillas, black bears and several of the animals in the Australia and South America exhibits.
"We had definitely gotten our years of service out of that hose, it was a good place for it to end up," Buller said.