PHOENIX - As extreme heat continues to beat down on the Valley, the Phoenix Fire Department wants to change the heat safety policy currently in place for hikers.
The recommendation is to close the trails year-round on any day the National Weather Service issues an Excessive Heat Warning. The trail closure policy is currently only in effect during the summer months.
Firefighters also want to extend the hours of closure to 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. The trails close at 11 a.m. right now.
Right now, pets can't go on the trails when it's over 100 degrees. Animals wouldn't be allowed when it's over 90 degrees under the new recommendations.
"We're seeing a lot of people calling 911 for heat-related illnesses and emergencies," said Capt. Kim Quick Ragsdale with Phoenix Fire.
Ragsdale says these recommendations are an attempt to slow those calls down.
"The trails are very strenuous; some of them are double black diamond," Ragsdale said. "There's steep terrain, rocky terrain. It's hot out. Even for a human, it can be stressful on the body, and that is the same for our pets as well."
The duration of 110+ degree days led to more heat-related calls and more rescues for fire and EMS personnel.
A woman died hiking in the Deem Hills Recreation Area on Aug. 4th, and a dog died on Piestewa Peak on Aug. 9th.
The department says even the firefighters have ended up in the hospital after responding to multiple calls in a day. So, for everyone's sake, they want to see these changes take effect.
"We're just asking everyone to hike smart and hike safe," Ragsdale said.
A pilot program to close the city trails on days with excessive heat warnings was put into effect in 2021 and officially implemented last year. The fire department just wants to broaden it.
"Everyone knows their body best. They know their physical activity level," Ragsdale said. "Just listen to how your body is feeling. If you start not feeling well, you can either turn around or you can implement the 911 system, and we'll be there with technical rescue technicians to help you off the mountain."
Phoenix Parks and Recreation will consider the proposal later this week, and it could potentially go into a pilot program first.