Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego shares vision to combat heat with Texas mayors

Jul 24, 2023, 12:00 PM

Left picture shows headshot of Kate Gallego, right photo shows Phoenix firefighter filling cooler w...

(Facebook Photo/Mayor Kate Gallego, Getty Images)

(Facebook Photo/Mayor Kate Gallego, Getty Images)

PHOENIX — As the city of Phoenix continues to help residents get through record-breaking temperatures, Mayor Kate Gallego said she recently shared her vision with her Texas counterparts while the state also deals with intense heat.

“I talk to a lot of mayors because I’m from a city that’s known for heat, and sometimes when they have — what’s for them — an unusual heat week, we can provide useful advice,” Gallego said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Gallego said she spoke to Texan mayors about the responsibilities of Phoenix-area first responders and how, if at all, similar responses could be beneficial to the lone star state.

What makes Phoenix unique when it comes to beating the heat?

“For example, we have mobile cooling units that can go to an emergency site, like a fire, where firefighters can go inside and cool down while they’re fighting a tough blaze,” Gallego said.

“Residents have also used those. Sometimes when there’s an intense fire, the electricity needs to go down for safety, wires are down and our residents can go into those mobile cooling units. We even have tactics where we can go out with IVs that have been cooled and that can cool people from the inside, which can save lives.”

Gallego was referring to the IV bags dispersed by Phoenix firefighters, which are pulled out from coolers packed with iced water and injected into a person’s body to begin lowering their temperature.

The lifesaving supplies aim to continue reducing the amount of heat-related deaths across the Valley.

This year, there have been 18 confirmed heat-related deaths and 69 cases were under investigation, according to Maricopa County weekly report. At the same time last year, there had been 29 confirmed heat-related deaths, with 193 cases under investigation.

“Another program that we have that’s really popular is our cool pavement program, so we are really just looking at how we design the city,” she said.

Gallego said Phoenix officials take into account that the city is a desert community with every decision regarding development. Some of those areas, in addition to the cool pavement, include reduced water use, water recycling and planning ahead for long-term drought.

“We have to be innovative, and that is the Phoenix way. We build for extreme temperatures in the summer so that we’ve made infrastructure investments that help us get out of these challenges, but this summer has set some tough records,” Gallego said.

By Monday morning, the record-breaking heat brought 24 consecutive days of above 110-degree temperatures, forcing many residents and visitors to stay cool inside throughout all of July.

“We are looking at the building materials we choose so that we can maintain less heat and hopefully cool more at night. That’s a change that can help long-term,” Gallego said.

“We’ve made some real changes with our fire department and other responders to be more sustainable, and then we’ve set up a permanent office … that just focuses on heat response, so that when we have good ideas, people know where to go.”

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Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego shares vision to combat heat with Texas mayors