PHOENIX — On any given day, about 3,600 postal workers are on the streets in Arizona delivering mail. Only a fraction of mail delivery vehicles on the road have air conditioners, but Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is hoping to change that.
“Less than 20% of our postal vehicles in Arizona have air conditioning, and inside those postal cars, the temperature can be as much as 20 degrees higher than it is outside,” Sinema said, noting the dangers postal workers deal with every day.
Some postal vehicles have been on the roads for decades. According to reports, the United States Postal Service fleet includes 190,000 local delivery vehicles, with many having gone into service between 1987 and 1994. Out of 3,625 postal vehicles in Arizona, only 583 have air conditioning.
Earlier this year, the USPS announced it was spending about $3 billion on 50,000 new vehicles. Sinema is hoping to bring many of them to our state, where temperatures regularly reach the triple digits.
"It's my hope that the postal service will assign these new generation vehicles to Arizona first because we live in one of the most dangerous parts of the country for our letter carriers," Sinema said.
The post office has implemented its heat illness prevention program called, HIP. It's meant to prevent heat illness and outline what to do if a worker is feeling sick from the heat. They say there were just under two dozen reported heat illness incidents last year compared to 42 incidents in 2018, before the program was implemented.