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Valley first responders prepare for the summer heat

Posted at 12:50 PM, Jun 13, 2021

PHOENIX — If you've ever been near a working fire, the heat from the flames can be felt hundreds of feet away.

“We do exactly what we tell the public. We hydrate before our shifts, we hydrate, during our shifts, we hydrate after our shifts we hydrate, just like if you are going to be outside,” says Phoenix Fire Captain Todd Keller.

When out on a call, the department will often add more firefighters to the rotation in order to allow for those who are working fires take more frequent breaks.

The extreme heat coupled with the fires they fight puts these first responders in a heightened state of alert as far as the heat is concerned.

The equipment they carry such as oxygen tanks, boots, hats and protective gear -- all of it putting added weight on their bodies.

"Upwards of 75 pounds extra, especially when that stuff starts getting wet and it gets a lot heavier, we are carrying tools, we are carrying our ACBA which is our air packs, and it keeps the heat inside so it gets warm,” adds Keller.

Saturday morning, firefighters battled a blaze in north Phoenix. Mountain rescues happen almost daily in this excessive heat. Responding to calls from hikers who are dehydrated or stranded up on a mountain is difficult because the person needing medical help can often be disoriented or laying on the ground.

So for folks who like to hike, Captain Keller has a bit of advice.

“A good rule we like to do is that when you take your bottle of water if you are halfway through your hike or you're halfway through your bottle, that means you are done. Say you are 1/4 of the way up and you are halfway through your bottle of water, turn around. That's enough because you know that's where you've gone to and you've used that much water,” added Keller.