PHOENIX - The Phoenix Fire Department requested closing hiking trails for a portion of the day during extreme heat as crews say the risk for hikers and firefighters grow every year.
That request was granted by Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board on July 13 during a special meeting on the pilot program.
An email from the board reads in part, "Per the City Charter, the Board has the authority to implement park rules that would close or restrict access to trails, and today’s decision was made due to concerns for the safety of the public and first responders."
The pilot program will run from July 16 to Sept. 30. During this time, Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail, and all trails associated with Piestewa Peak Trailhead in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve will be closed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on days when an excessive heat watch is in effect.
During closures, parking lots and gates to the hiking areas will be closed.
For more information on the program and closures, visit this link.
Rescues taking a toll on fire crews
The Phoenix Fire Department alone is conducting at least 20 heat-related rescues a month for hikers.
Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade says it's a lot of pressure on the rescuers. "We could be doing 6 or 7 rescues between the two mountains just on a Saturday and then repeat that on a Sunday."
Hikers will start to have a heat-related emergency on the mountain forcing rescuers to hike up the mountain with their gear in the summer heat, in addition to responding to other calls.
"We have had firefighters go to the hospital in these peak times that are triathletes, Iron Man competitors. It is just too much on the body," McDade said.
For hiking safety tips, visit this link.
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