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Scottsdale fire chief says responding to heat-related calls is ‘horrifying’

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — The Scottsdale fire chief says responding to heat-related calls in the summer, especially those involving children, is “horrifying” for firefighters.

“Losing folks in any way is tough for our firefighters to deal with,” Chief Tom Shannon told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.

“Our folks, they work those calls like professionals, but it’s just tough to see, really, the humanity of what heat and environmental emergencies like this can do to you.”

The department has responded to 37 heat-related calls so far this summer, including two deaths.

Shannon said it’s especially difficult handling calls of pets and children left in hot cars.

“They’re so innocent … and when folks inadvertently or accidentally make that fatal mistake and leave that child in a car … running on those calls knowing that it was frankly entirely preventable, much like a drowning, is just really hard for firefighters,” he said.

The chief said the sights and smells of walking into a home where someone has died from the heat can haunt firefighters for the rest of their careers.

“It is a harsh environment to work in, and even though they’re professionals, they’re human,” he said.

“So we do everything we can to not only make sure they’re safe running those calls … but then when they experience those things, we circle up real fast around them.”

Shannon said staying in the shade and drinking as much water as possible is important to avoiding these types of incidents.

The Phoenix area hit its highest temperature of the year Tuesday when the mercury reached 115 degrees.

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